There's not a huge amount I want to say about The Warrior's Path (a.k.a. The Sanctuary). It's not a film to be analysed, it's a film that requires a full brain power-down to enjoy, but if you've got a taste for cheesy martial arts movies then enjoy you will.
In 1897, some of Thailand's most priceless antiques get stolen. The thieves are swiftly dealt with, but not before they hide the stolen goods deep underground. Over a hundred years later, one half of a set of twins, who happen to be ancestors of the very officer that dealt with the villains, stumbles upon one of the artefacts, attracting the attention of a mafia boss hell bent on retrieving them. He hires Patrick, some sort of genius bad-ass and his team to get the job done. After one of the twins is killed along the way, the living brother (a Muay Thai expert of course) and a sexy archaeologist embark on a mission to take back the important national artefacts and bring down those responsible for it's theft.
The Warrior's Path is a dumb, clunky, silly film that is riddled with problems, but as a low rent action extravaganza, it's pretty damn good. The period opening with it's horrific acting and cheap looking 'shiny' filter over everything got me prepared for the worst, but when this was followed by a well choreographed extended battle in the woods I figured I'd give it a chance. This became the regular rhythm of the film really – shoddiness followed by genuinely good action set-pieces incorporating authentic looking Muay Thai and Aikido. The pace of it all was kept nice and tight so that the film's problems never troubled me enough to make me reach for the fast forward button. The filmmakers knew their strengths and kept the rest of what goes into making a decent film to a bare minimum, which for me worked fine. There's a great line in the film where one character interrupts some painful exposition by saying “hey guys, stop talking!” Good idea.
The writing is atrocious, as are the performances, mainly with regards to the English-speaking cast members at least. The plot is laughable and full of bizarre coincidences. At one point the good guys accidentally run into the bad guys on a road, get injured and chased off down into a cave where they stay for a night or two, only to return to that road on their way back out and bump into the bad guys again, who for some reason haven't flown off home yet!
As an action movie though it's top notch. It's advertised as being from the stunt team that brought us Ong Bak and how much of that is true I don't know, but the choreography here certainly isn't a million miles away from the work of Tony Jaa and co. It doesn't have the stunt-work of Thailand's biggest action exports, but the fights are fast, hard and acrobatic.
So yeah, there's no way I'd recommend this to your average cinema-goer or to anyone looking for something to tide them over till Tree of Life comes out, but for fans of good old-fashioned cheesy action, you can do a lot worse.
The Warrior's Path is out on DVD on 13th June in the UK, released by Metrodome. The DVD's only special feature is a brief and shabbily presented behind the scenes featurette. It's fleetingly interesting, but nothing special and mainly a promo/love-in sort of thing. The picture quality is decent enough though and there are two different audio options – 5.1 or stereo, which is a handy addition for someone like myself who currently doesn't have a 5.1 setup.
Review by David Brook
A clip from the film (courtesy of Metrodome):