Sunday, December 12, 2010

Warriors. Way.

There's nothing new or innovative about the peanut-butter-and-chocolate melding of westerns and eastern martial arts. The cultural cross-pollination between westerns and samurai movies starting in the fifties, the contribution of asian immigrants to the building of the west, and the ubiquity of westerns during the time that kung-fu became popular in Hollywood, have all contributed to a half-century of martial arts westerns. Certainly anyone who watched TV in the seventies -- or who has watched reruns from that era -- recalls "Kung Fu," the most popular martial arts western in the U.S. And Asian countries have contributed to the subgenre, with works such as the 1985 anime movie "Dagger of Kamui" in which a gold hoard from Catalina Island funds the overthrow of the shogunate.

So there's nothing new about "The Warrior's Way" in terms of theme. What's new are the technological innovations that make what would otherwise be a cheap B-movie into something that's visually entertaining -- sort of a live-action anime -- particularly the scenes with the ninja-like warriors dropping from the sky like black rain. And what would otherwise be a matte-painting background is now a digitally-painted background, unreal and real at the same time.

There's not a lot of brain power in "The Warrior's Way." The filmmakers don't bother to give most of the killed bad guys any personality. Neither do they explain what country the protagonist or his opponents come from (Korea? China? Japan? Some mythical amalgam of them?) or how literal armies of warriors can be brought across the desert or across the ocean. (How are they billeted? Provisioned? Paid?) But it's a fun weekend afternoon of martial arts, six-shooter entertainment.

No comments: