Not the greatest film

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m increasingly demanding in my taste and expectation, but TV totally sucks at the moment.

Every evening I go through the same rigmarole of searching through the listings. First the main, “old school,” channels: soaps, reality rubbish and documentaries that don’t interest me; then the newer channels, Sky 1, Sky Atlantic and the like – “Oh look it’s Series 3, episode 29 of that repetitive crime “thriller” that never sorts itself out and shows no sign of ever trying to.”

BBCs 3 and 4 occasionally put on something good, reference an excellent programme American comedian Rich Hall did recently on Hollywood’s portrayal of the southern states of the USA – “Dirty South.” That was a fine piece of TV: funny, informative and opinionated. Let’s have more of that type of thing please.

But, generally, it’s all crap and this is a problem as we head into another tiresome winter. Through the summer I don’t really care as I’m normally out in the evenings, playing golf, barbecuing, gardening etc.. But as we go into effective hibernation for five months, I need some distraction.

Our technique is to flog the film channels within an inch of their lives. Thank god for Sky Indie. If we search hard enough, record things when we see them and make use of Sky’s “Anytime,” we’ll find enough decent films to last us until next March.

I think films are just so much better than TV mini series’. Principally because they’re one-offs, (except if they’re part of some appalling franchise, in which case they’re probably not worth watching,) so the writer and director will have given everything to say all that needs to, and should, be said in a two hour slot. They can also be far more niche, they don’t have to appeal to a TV audience, they can be more subtle, more weird and more unique – they just tend to be better.

To try and prove that rule I’m going to talk about an exception – an exceptionally bad film we watched last night. “The Warrior’s Way” is not a good film. In fact, it’s bad on a number of levels. It’s one of those weird crossovers where martial arts meet the Wild West. Why? Well apart from trying to milk two different genres to make more money, I can’t really see it. Is it something to do with the rivalry between the East and West? Asia’s economic and political power growing to threaten the dominance of the West…  Is this some sort of metaphor? I don’t get it if it is.

Anyway this is briefly what happens in this film: A sword-wielding ninja hero kills every member of his old clan enemy save the last one – a baby girl. His clan is cross that he doesn’t kill her. He takes baby across the sea to somewhere that looks like the Wild West to see an old friend. Old friend is dead. Town where old friend has lived is plagued by a gang of outlaws. Hero meets heroine whose family has been killed by outlaws. Hero trains heroine to fight using swords. Outlaws turn up in town, ninjas turn up in town – hero and heroine kill the lot with a bit of help from Geoffrey Rush.

One of the key problems with this film is that the hero character, played badly by Dong-gun Jang, is just way too good at fighting. At the start of the film he kills, “The greatest swordsman in the history of mankind ever,” with one blow. Where do you go from there? He’s totally infallible, he kills 10 ninjas with one sweep of his blade, he’s clearly never going to get hurt and nobody, save for someone a safe distance away with a nuclear missile, is going to be able to beat him. That makes for pretty boring and inevitable viewing.

It’s a fundamental error in this type of action film. If one character is too powerful then there’s no uncertainty, no question of how the story will pan out. And, if the script does find a way to manipulate a circumstance where there is uncertainty then it seems contrived and awkward.

But that wasn’t all that was wrong with this film. It attempts to be surreal but does it in a half-hearted way – throws some clowns and a dwarf into the mix. It attempts to be funny (I think) but totally fails. It’s a real mish-mash of badly done bits and pieces. In short, if you see this coming on one of the movie channels, turn back to “I’m a celebrity and won’t cook on ice” or some other drivel.

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