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July 27, 2011
The Warrior's Way Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
26/1/201120/7/2011Sony PicturesSngmoo Lee
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Dong-gun Jang

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Dong-gun Jang is solid in The Warriors Way.

Filmed in New Zealand on a moderate budget of $US45 million from first time writer and director Sngmoo Lee it's actually quite surprising that this film didn't get more buzz upon release in theatres as while lead actor Dong-gun Jang isn't well known outside South Korea there are several other household names in this movie such as Geoffrey Rush, Kate Bosworth, Danny Huston and Tony Cox.

The Warrior's Way starts off quite brilliantly indeed with a wonderful, mysterious samurai sequence where we see the films main character become "The Greatest Swordsman". The imagery, the pacing, the voiceovers are superb and it sets a tone for a wonderful samurai/action movie - or so we thought.

Soon after we are transported to a run-down circus township that wouldn't feel too out of place in the HBO TV series CarnivÓle with unique characters at every corner from a bearded lady, to a midget, to all manner of misfits. This movie then becomes a story about their lives, their struggle to survive and, for "The Greatest Swordsman", a love interest.

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The Warriors Way has some gorgeous, stylized, cinematography.
For a large part of the film we see this Swordsman change his life, become a part of the circus-folk's community and lead as normal a life as he can. When the town is threatened by a group of thugs the Swordsman helps out only to alert his clan members to his whereabouts, as well as the baby he save from a rival clan.

Lead actor Dong-gun Jang (who starred in the brilliant Korean movie Brotherhood - which we recommend you dig up) doesn't have a lot to say throughout this movie, he lets his swords do the talking for the most part so it's hard to fall in love with his character. Kate Bosworth is a delightful actress, but her role of Lynne in this film is rather annoying for the most part (especially in the earlier stages) while Geoffrey Rush steals the screen whenever he appears as the drunken Ron who hides a dark secret.

Kudos must go to Woo-hyung Kim who has provided some of the most gorgeous, engaging and enjoyable cinematography we've seen in some time. While the majority of the film was show against green screens - particularly the outdoor sequences, everything gels together in a delightful, surreal, manner and there is no better example of this then a swordfight that takes place at 1:19:00 or thereabouts.

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The gorgeous Kate Bosworth's character Lynne is a little annoying.
It fair to say that this certainly isn't a movie for youngsters with considerable graphic violence and adult themes. Having said that this does, at times, feel like a movie made for a younger audience. This isn't the samurai movie that I expected, and half way into the film I wasn't sure if I was really enjoying it, but it grew on me and has a great, action-packed final thirty minutes or so which will have you hooked. Ultimately The Warrior's Way won't be for everyone, but it is likely to find some fans.

Strangely, for a Sony Pictures release, the video has been encoded at a modified 1.78:1 aspect ratio rather than the films original 2.35:1 aspect ratio as seen in cinemas. We suspect too that the sides of the image have been cropped off rather than the image being opened up at the top and bottom.

Given the lack of extras on this disc the video bitrate has been given plenty of breathing room and sits above 20Mbps in the mode static scenes, but when the action heats up the bitrate often peaks well above 30Mbps according to our PS3. Of course bitrate doesn't prove anything if the encoding isn't up to scratch, but we're pleased to report that the studio has done a good job here. Indeed this AVC MPEG-4 encoding looks pretty wonderful with a natural level of film grain, some wonderful colouring and plenty of fine detail even in the darker scenes.

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A colourful screen from The Warriors Way on Blu-Ray.
The Warrior's Way has been released on Blu-Ray with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16-bit/48Khz) track which sounds wonderful with clear dialogue and thumping bass - not least of which can be heard during the machine gun fire at the 1:11:40 mark. Surround sound channels too are used frequently and are often critical in a movie full of ninja's leaping around.

There are no other audio tracks, or subtitles provided on this disc which is a disappointing - an English subtitle track should be a minimum for any Blu-Ray release.

Extras on this disc are, disappointingly for such a new release, very minimal to say the least... Here's what you can expect...

Deleted Scenes (11:54/HD): Thirteen deleted scenes are presented here with many requiring visual effects to be completed. There's some interesting footage here, but nothing that would have added much to the final film.

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Tony Cox puts in a solid performance.
Behind the Scenes Montage (2:19/HD): I love behind the scenes footage but this is just so short that there's little gained from watching it.

Trailers (6:22/HD): Prior to hitting the main menu this disc runs trailers for Main Street (2:35), The Green Hornet (1:48) and Battle: Los Angeles (1:59).

The Warrior's Way is certainly a unique movie, and it will have its fans, but we can see it's not for everyone. From a first time director and writer this film didn't do as well as it deserved at the box office - but might, hopefully, pick up on rental and at retail.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.