–But nothing too big. That is to say, the movie was quite predictable, so it would be hard to come up with spoilers outside of heroes win, bad-guys lose, and so-and-so died. But yes, there is a lot of death, dying, and killing in this movie. Truth be told though, they kind of show the whole movie in the trailer.
Okay, so I went to that screening that Mike mentioned the other day for The Warrior's Way, or whatever they are going to call it bcz the movie had a different title at the beginning, à la Heroes' chapter titles, that was lying in the sand: “Renegade”. Also, as mentioned before, it was formerly titled “The Laundry Warrior”. I brought my friend Alex along and we talked about it extensively afterward. I'll try to focus on the things that matter. Try...
First off, the cast: Kate Bosworth, Geoffery Rush, Danny Huston, and Jang Dong-gun, amongst others. Yes, Jang Dong-gun is the lead actor in the film, though he speaks very little; I'll get to that later. Kate Bosworth is the lead actress, and Geoffery Rush and Danny Huston are the supporting cast along with some guy who plays the leader of the “flute clan” that is after Dong-gun's character (doesn't seem to be listed on IMDb, as of yet): you see him briefly at 3:31 in the trailer. He kind of looks a bit like Cheech Marin to me. Oh, and Tony Cox plays this guy they call “Eight Ball”.
Most people will probably think Geoffery Rush is the one stand-out actor in this movie, as he is quite a strange and funny character, and for what he had to work with, he really stood out. He was so-so. Reminded me of someone out of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. I think he probably stands out though bcz he's a name-actor.
Danny Huston is the bad-guy. He does bad-guy things and there's nothing good or redeeming about him; although they try to trick the audience into believing so, but even that comes off as obvious and predictable. Personally I didn't find his character all that interesting, and mostly I just found him annoying bcz of that. Not the “love to hate” baddie like I'd love to hate... even with his “teeth” fetish. Idk, maybe it only appeared that he had a “teeth” fetish bcz all the other women in the movie had such horrid hygiene.
Kate Bosworth plays Lynne, a spunky, out of control, revenge-filled girl; who is a crappy, circus knife thrower. Later she is given some “far east” style pointers by our leading man. The romance here is very weak. Yes, there's romance, but Bosworth's character seems to be the only instigator. Both Alex and I thought it might have been better to leave it out altogether. It's odd at times, and even though she's obviously never had a dude of her own, she just seems like she's testing the waters here. It's complicated. Two baggage-filled, complicated people smooching in the middle of the desert... but I think I'm giving the movie too much credit. It's a lame attempt at a romance. Either cut it out or do a better job. Plus there's a baby in all of this...
Jang Dong-gun plays Yang, although I don't remember that name in the movie at all, I'm just going off of IMDb. Mostly they call him “Skinny”. He says absolutely nothing for like the first half hour of the movie, to the point where it becomes a joke when he finally starts talking. There was this big sigh of relief from the audience, as if to say, “finally!” Actually, I think I did hear someone say that. So yeah, he's very quiet, but we do see a playful personality emerge quite early in the film, which helps us to relate and actually care about this assassin/killer.
I really liked this guy. Most of the acting in the movie either sucked or was way over the top. Jang Dong-gun was very understated but he was cool. He was kind of a typical “drifter” but there were little elements thrown into his character to give him just enough depth. His performance worked well in conjunction, and even overshadowed at times, with his baby companion. Oh right, the baby... I'll get to that later.
Yang takes an interest in Lynne, as does she in him. They are both a bit nosy with each-others past, but that's how they relate. The sparks really try to fly with these two, but the movie has true fireworks to pick up where these ones fail.
To start off, Yang kills this awesome bad-ass swordsman but doesn't have the heart to take the life of his orphaned child, so he takes the baby and runs off to the land of opportunity in hopes of hiding from those who want his blood. So what do they do? They move into a town of circus performers. His journey there is brought by his interest in finding a man the townsfolk called “Smiley”, the only other east-Asian person around. We see him in photographs. Turns out Smiley's DOA (can't remember why) and Yang sets out to take over the laundry business –hence the former title: “The Laundry Warrior”.
The title of the movie is pretty bland. It would be nice if they came up with something a little more distinguishable. Just feels too generic, like “Ninja Assassin”. I could see why they'd think something up like “The Laundry Warrior” bcz it's something people can remember, but here's the problem with that: beyond just the stereotype of the “Asian dry cleaners”, he's not really a launderer. Lynne pretty much shows him the ropes on that (yeah, bcz she's a woman! lol, it's a lose-lose people). There really isn't much laundry-involved stuff outside of him taking the business over. It's mostly him doing a few things like hanging clothes while trying to gain acceptance from the jerks in town... before the real jerks show up.
Oh, there is one scene where he doesn't have his sword so he picks up an Iron and starts to use it to fight with. I kind of wish there was more of that, as it was interestingly amusing, and I've never quite seen a fight between hordes of sword-wielding assassins and a man with an iron before.
That first shot you see in the trailer is the very first shot you see in the movie itself. I liked it. The imagery really pulls you in, and the opening sequence, what happens right after the blade is thrown into the pond, was very interesting, and for a western audience who is not familiar with this sort of thing (I'm guessing Wuxia? But it seemed more Japanese to me), I imagine it would be very fun and exciting. Others might find it too typical of this style of cinema. But the style changes... It's like they took three different movie genres and tossed them into a blender.
The effects were a mixed-bag. They were obviously budget, but some of it worked and some of it didn't. There are these scenes where it is reminiscent of old Japanese cinema, where outdoors are shot on a stage; similarly with old westerns as well. Has anyone seen Tears of the Black Tiger, or *cringe* Sukiyaki Western Django? The parts that didn't quite work, I'm guessing the effects were just not quite finished. There were shots of wide scenic views with the actors superimposed over them, and the atmospheric perspective seemed to float behind the actors instead of on top of them. Looked cartoony.
The comedy in the movie is what I felt really helped and there should have been more. They let you know from the start of the film that there's going to be some tongue-in-cheek moments, as when they introduce with text, “The greatest swordsman” adding “...in the entire world”, only to shortly thereafter add “Ever...” underneath all that; while the actors remain very stoic and deadpan.
There is one instance, that I can remember, where he is referred to as a “gook” by one of the townsfolk. I guess they were trying to be within the context of the character and setting, but I don't think that word goes back as far as the old west, as far as I know. Either way, if you have a man from the “far east” strolling into an “old west” town, it's going to raise a few discriminating eyebrows. I guess I'm reminded of the fantasy vs. reality thing.. er, the reality within fantasy thing... or rather, that thing sidepocket was talking about. I guess what I'm saying is, it probably would have been a bit odd and distracting if he just strolled in and every single person in town welcomed him with open arms. There's bound to be some prejudice there. I'm probably putting too much emphasis on this, so I'll move on...
After the film Alex and I were asked to fill out some answer sheets and comment on what we just saw. We spent a little too much time and had to go outside as they were about to start filming the select few people who were chosen to stick around after the show. In doing such we forgot our “gift bags” that were to be given to everyone who turned in their questionnaire. Oh well. I wonder what was in the bag though?
Thinking back on it, I gave it the “what if he was a white guy” test. They probably would have tried to work that romance angle more, I'm guessing, but I'm not really into that so I don't really care. His quietness reminded me of the Man with No Name, or even Max from the Mad Max series. The he's too cool to talk, kind of guy. I'd really like to hear others opinions on this after the film's release.
I asked Alex, who is Asian-American, what he thought: specifically as an Asian-American. He said that he “kind of wondered which country Yang was supposed to be from,” and added, “The setting looked Japanese-y but the whole clan [the flute clan] and the characters just felt like generic 'Asians'. Of course, it was hard to tell what anyone was other than Yang and his master, they [the flute clan] all had cowls and hats to cover everything.”
I keep wanting to compare this with Ninja Assassin. Probably bcz it's the last movie I saw in the theater, and bcz it was cheap, dealt with assassins from the far-east, and had lots of similar action; even the cut-em-up fight scene with lights flashing on and off from gunfire... or was it lightning? It had other similarities as well.
Re-watch ability? Yeah, I can see myself sitting through that again. And yeah, from the trailer it really looked like an interesting movie, so I might have gone to see it anyways. But for something like Ninja Assassin, I really had no interest in seeing it, but did, and it was just okay; and I can't really see myself sitting through Ninja Assassin again.
There is one moment near the end of the movie that was just so off the wall, and probably the one thing that came closest to being unpredictable in the whole film. I won't ruin it for anyone, but I'll say this, I've never laughed so hard at something so horrifyingly sad.
All-in-all I'd have to say the worst experience at this film, aside from the bad acting, was having to see it in the theater, and deal with noisy theatergoers (that woman sitting next to Alex, she had to translate the movie for her husband –not even joking here. She actually translated every line of dialogue, that wasn't Spanish, and had to explain things as well. You don't get that in your living room LOL).
Easily the best part of this movie for me was the baby. If they gave out Oscars for babies... wow... this one would be up for one, for sure. Or maybe whoever the 'baby wrangler' was? LOL Contrasting with all the bloody violence was this sweet little baby, with her “aw...” moments and comic relief. Smiles and dirty looks, she was great!
Sequels? Yes, they actually leave it open for another film. Although, the tag at the end of the movie is a bit long.
Bottom line: I liked the movie. It didn't suck and it wasn't spectacular. I think we both agreed that the best word to describe this movie was “adequate” –just adequate.
Any questions about anything I might not have touched on?
Thanks again to whosdamike for passing along the invitation!
- Current Mood: tired