At first, when I read the back of the box, I must say I had my doubts about The Warrior, mostly because I’ve never studied the history of the Yuan and Ming dynasties. Therefore, I was a bit lost with regards to the subject matter of the movie. Then, as the movie began, it was apparent that this was a Korean production made for Koreans. All the text and actors’ names are written in Korean, although English subtitles are available. The DVD offers both English and original Korean audio as well. Despite the hesitations I had about The Warrior, it didn’t take more than 15 minutes for me to be completely immersed in the storyline.Let’s just start by saying that the R rating for The Warrior is not an overstatement. In a movie with swords, lances, bows and arrow, you expect to see some good fight scenes, but this movie shows it like it must have been at the time; that is to say, bloody and gritty. Let’s hope you’re not afraid at the sight of blood, or people being dismembered. This one is definitely not for the faint of heart, yet it offers a fairly realistic depiction of combat. There aren’t any unrealistic “air” moves as in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon for example.
The story of The Warrior is that of a group of Koryo soldiers and diplomats sent to China in 1375 to negotiate the peace with the new Ming Dynasty, which has defeated the Yuan army. The Ming do not take the Koryo seriously in their offer and therefore sends the group in exile in a remote desert. This is really where the story takes off, because in their quest to get back to Korea, the group will encounter Yuan soldiers, who have captured Ming’s princess (Ziyi Zhang). At this point the group has to decide whose side they’ll take as they try to reach Korea. Among the group, we find the young General Choi (Jin-mo Ju) who leads the group, and we later discover that one of the diplomats’ slaves, Yeo-sol (Woo-sung Jung), is just about invincible with a spear.
The Warrior is a great movie with heroics, emotion and action. If you like a good sword fight combined to an interesting storyline, this movie is a welcome surprise. It features Ziyi Zhang (Memoirs of a Geisha) in the role of the princess, and Woo-Sung Jung in the main role. The only negative note is that at 133 minutes, some people might find this movie a little long.