Action fans should appreciate this wild and woolly mix of gunslinging and sword-swinging.
Editor's Note: Throughout March and April, we’re celebrating Great Westerns of the 21st Century — noteworthy movies and TV series with special appeal to C&I readers that have premiered since 2001. Check the Entertainment tab Monday through Friday to see a different recommendation by C&I senior writer Joe Leydon. And be on the lookout for our upcoming May/June 2020 print edition, which prominently features the legendary star who looms large in two of this century’s very best westerns.
Call it a kung-fu western action-adventure fairy tale, and you won’t be far off the mark. The Warrior’s Way (2010), writer-director Sngmoo Lee’s visually inspired multi-genre mashup, suggests a fever-dream collaboration of Sergio Leone and Federico Fellini as it recounts the amazing exploits of Yang (Korean superstar Jang Dong-gun), a master swordsman who becomes the sworn enemy of his fellow warriors when he refuses to kill a baby girl who is the only surviving member of a rival clan.
Hotly pursued by, oh, I dunno, maybe a hundred or so ninja assassins, Yang escapes with the infant and makes his way across the ocean to Lode, a remote Wild West town where the main attraction used to be a carnival — a still-under-construction Ferris wheel dominates the landscape, to the point of practically serving as a supporting player — and most of the inhabitants are career-stalled carnival performers.
Not unlike Clint Eastwood’s titular fugitive in The Outlaw Josey Wales, Yang gradually ingratiates himself to the community of outcasts and outsiders. He establishes particularly close bonds with Ron (Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush of Rush and Shakespeare in Love), a chronically soused derelict who proves surprisingly capable when lethal marksmanship is required, and Lynne (Kate Bosworth), a tomboyish beauty who seeks warrior training (among other things) from the mysterious new guy in town. They and other Lode residents need Yang’s help in ridding themselves of The Colonel (Danny Huston, recently of TV’s Yellowstone), a savage interloper backed by a gang of equally bad hombres.
But even The Colonel and his minions seem like petty annoyances when the aforementioned ninja assassins roll into town, cuing a lengthy series of climactic battles involving gunslinging and sword-slinging that should satisfy fans of both martial-arts movies and offbeat hybrid westerns.
The Warrior's Way is available for streaming on YouTube, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play and other streaming platforms.