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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Task 37 – Warrior's Way Movie Review

(37) Watch 26 Movies (15/26)
Movie: Warrior's Way
Rating: 4-Stars
The Warriors Way, a visually-stunning modern martial arts western starring Korean actor Dong-gun Jang who plays an Asian warrior assassin forced to hide in a small town in the American Badlands.
After a lifetime of training in martial arts and swordsmanship, Yang (Jang Dong Gun) has eliminated all but one of his clan's enemies - an infant whose smile instantly melts his heart. Unwilling to kill her and unable to protect her from his own deadly Sad Flutes clan, Yang takes the baby girl and flees, planning to seek refuge with an old friend living in Lode, a frontier town in the American West.
He arrives to find that his friend nicknamed Smiley has died and the once thriving Gold Rush town is in shambles, inhabited only by a few dozen eccentrics including Lynne (Kate Bosworth), a beautiful, spirited knife thrower-in-training and Ron (Geoffrey Rush), a worn-out drunk. In order to make a safe home for the child, far from the reach of his murderous clansman, Yang decides to stay on as the town's new laundryman, sealing his sword for good.

Yang unexpectedly finds a kindred spirit in Lynne. Lynne gives Yang the nickname Skinny and agrees to teach him how to do the laundry. Yang begins to enjoy his life in the town, learning to enjoy pleasures he never knew as a warrior. He becomes friendly with the people, a hard worker, and able gardener, while the baby dubbed April, is adored by all. He even finds an interest in opera, after Lynne shows him on a gramophone. Lynne reveals to Yang that Smiley taught her a little but of the sword, and about the Sad Flute clan. She wants Yang to teach her more, and asks about the Sad Flutes' name. He explains that it describes the sound of blood coming from your victim's slit throat, but he is reluctant to show any of his warrior skill. Back in the East, Yang's former clan is shown to be looking for him. His former master Saddest Flute and his ninja army take a boat to America after finding a clue to where he has gone. The ships crew is shown to be slain as they arrive. Saddest Flute states that to find Yang in such a large country, they would wait and listen.

Orphaned by a horrifying act of brutality, Lynne has spent ten years plotting revenge against her attacker, the Colonel (Danny Huston).Yang one day sees Lynne place flowers on a grave, and asks what happened. He is told by Eightball that years ago, when Lynne was an adolescent girl, the town came under siege by a corrupt Colonel. His preference to rape women with healthy teeth prompts him to choose Lynne as his victim while her father is held to the ground, and mother and baby brother forced to stand by. When Lynne is brought to the Colonel in a kitchen, she manages to evade him by throwing a pan of potatoes frying in grease on his face. She runs outside, and the Colonel shoots her through the chest. Her father struggles free and is shot dead by the Colonel, while her mother holding her brother runs over and both are also killed.

When the townsfolk buried her family, they found Lynne still breathing. Since then, Lynne has made revenge on the Colonel a priority, aching to learn to fight and kill, and practices throwing knives, but that her aim is lacking. Yang surprises Lynne by showing her that her knife throwing was prohibited by her sight, not her arm, and gives her a successful lesson by blindfolding her. Lynne is clearly fond of Yang, and gives him a charm on a necklace that belonged to her mother, as a present.

Yang continues living his life peacefully with April until he experiences his first Christmas. While the townspeople celebrate the holiday dancing, Yang and Lynne go out to the desert to 'dance' in their swordplay, ending in a stalemate where Yang tells Lynne she has not won until her enemy's heart stops. Lynne kisses Yang on the mouth, catching him totally off guard and stopping time. Lynne runs away smiling at him, and Yang sits down shocked, staring at his lips in his swords' reflection.

Back in town the Colonel and his renegade gang return and threaten to destroy the town. Knowing that Lynne will do everything in her power to exact revenge on the Colonel the town tied Lynne up and hides her. She manages to escape however.

The Colonel then inspects a lineup of women for their teeth, and chooses a Hispanic woman whose husband begs for mercy. The Colonel releases the woman to her husband to shoot them simultaneously. The Colonel has the hispanic woman's daughters cleaned to be raped, but Lynne, disguised as a prostitute offers herself instead. She fools the Colonel, thinking she will be able to kill him when he reveals he recognized her after smelling her neck. The Colonel's men rush in to hold Lynne down to the bed.

Yang realizing where Lynne has gone grabs an iron and shatters the seal on his katana to free it. Far away, Saddest Flute jerks up from meditation, sensing the seal break, and is aware of Yang's location.

Yang then leads a fierce and ingenious force of townspeople armed only with improvised weapons and a unique set of skills in an all-out battle. The outlaws are lured to the Ferris wheel, where Yang and the carnies ambush them. Ron slides to safety on a cable, and the Ferris wheel is blown up, killing many of the Colonel's men. Thinking it safe, the carnies come out from cover, only to be attacked by the numerous remaining outlaws. The Colonel's men chase the carnies to the center of town, and as Yang feared, the sound of his sword has brought the ruthless ninjas into the fray, where the Sad Flutes suddenly assemble. Saddest Flute instructs them 'kill.' Yang looks to Lynne holding April and tells her to run. The carnies manage to get away before the bloodshed between the outlaw cowboys and ninja warriors starts.

Lynne hands Eight Ball April while she helps Yang but suddenly hears shots and returns to discover that the Colonel has shot Eightball and kidnapped April. As Eight Ball dies the Colonel is seen carrying April into a building, yelling at his men to make sure no one got in.

The Sad Flutes pursue hotly, and are mostly fended off with a machine gun, but the outlaws are unable to stop Yang, as he brutally slices through them all. He comes in the room to find the Colonel holding a gun to April's head, and leaps up to cut the barrel and bullet in half mid-firing. Catching April from falling, Yang steps aside to let Lynne fight the Colonel. After a tense battle, Lynne manages to finally drive a sword into the Colonel's back exacting her revenge.

Yang and Lynne exit the room to find Saddest Flute sitting across the carnage at the end of the hall. He tells Yang that April is the enemy, and asks if he would ever tell April that Yang killed her parents, her whole clan, and observes that Yang ran away from his old life of killing to kill more. He says Yang does not belong there. Yangs claims he does, or did, and will not kill April. Yang and Saddest flute go to the desert in the sunset, and duel to the death. During the fight, flashbacks show Saddest Flute training Yang as an adult in pouring rain, drilling him through adolescence in the snow, and forcing child Yang to kill the puppy he was given as his pet, declaring Yang's biggest enemy would be his heart, and as an assassin, he must kill what he loves. In the present, Yang wins the duel, cutting Saddest Flute's throat.

Lynne tells Yang she knows she won't be coming with him, and tries to hand him April, but he refuses. He makes the baby laugh once more, and gives Lynne a caring look. Yang turns to the sunset and never stopped walking, to put as much space between him and the little lady he loved as possible. The scene then shifts to a snowy, glacial environment. Opera plays from a small fish shack where a hooded man in a parka sits. Another approaches and asks how much for a fish. The sitting man nimbly kills the other, knives falling out of his hands as he collapses. Yang stands up and goes to his shack, where he takes his pendant from Lynne, his katana disguised as a snowman's broom, and April's pacifier, and sets the hut on fire. Walking out to the snow, a slew of ninja warriors leap out of the snow, and Yang unsheathes his katana as the scene fades.

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