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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Review By: Dave Warner