Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jang Dong-gun, Kate Bosworth, Geoffrey Rush, Danny Huston, Tony Cox, Ti Lung, Analin Rudd, Markus Hamilton, Rod Lousich, Matt Gillanders, Christina Asher, Jed Brophy, Carl Bland, Ian Harcourt, Tony Wyeth
Written by: Sngmoo Lee
Directed by: Sngmoo Lee
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence
Running Time: 100
Date: 12/01/2010

The Warrior's Way (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Cowboy Kung-Fu

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The American-educated Korean citizen Sngmoo Lee makes his directorial debut here, and it's a great deal of fun, pairing up Korean and American stars, as well as the martial arts and Western genres (though it's definitely better versed in the former than in the latter). The result is slick, brisk and fun, although some audiences may take exception to the presence of a baby in the midst of all the violence, as well as brief, violent acts committed against a young girl.

A skilled swordsman succeeds in wiping out the last of his enemies -- almost. All that remains is a baby. Invoking the wrath of his own clansmen, he decides to spare the baby and head for "Lode," an old West town, where an old friend once lived. There he meets Lynne (Kate Bosworth), who dubs him "Skinny." He befriends "8 Ball" (Tony Cox), and the town drunk (Geoffrey Rush), opens a laundry and learns to fit in. Unfortunately, his enemies are still on the hunt for him. Not to mention that Lynne has an enemy of her own, the sadistic Colonel (Danny Huston), who once murdered her entire family. Can "Skinny" keep his violent past from intruding on his newfound life?

Jang Dong-gun (previously seen in Chen Kaige's The Promise) turns in an appealingly low-key, stoic performance, and he's nicely matched by the high power of his American co-stars, especially the spunky Bosworth, who has never been better. Lee draws from a number of genre conventions, but he does so with cheerful self-awareness and mixes them all together with a kind of infectious glee. His action sequences are clear and snappy, with the ante forever being upped for the unbelievably explosive climax.

As befitting one of the biggest financial flops of 2010 -- making just $5.6 million on a $42 million budget -- Fox has released a fairly stripped-down Blu-Ray. It comes with an all-too-brief behind-the-scenes featurette (about 3 minutes) and a batch of deleted scenes (about 12 minutes). A second disc includes a digital copy. But regardless of grosses, action fans need to see this cool movie.

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