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June 2011

The Warrior's Path

cast: Russell Wong, Mike B, Patharawirin Timkul, Winston Omega, and Intira Jaroenpura

director: Thalapon Maliwan

80 minutes (15) 2009
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Metrodome DVD Region 2
[released 13 June]

RATING: 3/10
review by Jim Steel

The Warrior's Path

Imagine, for a moment, a filmed that was plotted by an eight-year-old boy. Such a film would have a plot, for sure, because all films have plots. It would also follow the basic three-act story arc because, again, that is what films do. But, because it is a film that is scripted by an eight-year-old boy, the plot would merely be a vehicle to move the action to the scenes that an eight-year-old boy thinks are the raison d'etre for the film, whether that be shoot-'em-ups, car crashes, disasters or, in the case of The Warrior's Path (aka: The Sanctuary), martial arts' fisticuffs. Girls may be present, of course, but there is certainly going to be none of that kissy-kissy business in this film.

I exaggerate, of course. But I'm not wrong in any detail. The combat is superb, even if the characters do have a tendency to wait their turn when the numbers fighting are unevenly balanced, so if you like watching martial arts exhibitions then you will get a kick out of this. As for everyone else out there... how can I put this best? How about if I just tell you some of the plot and let you decide for yourself?

It's 1897, and a Thai minister is about to present the American ambassador (Mathew Perry - but before you get too excited, note that Mathew is spelt with only one 'T') and his wife with some vases that are priceless Thai relics. Seems a bit generous, but there you go. Mrs Ambassador (played by someone identified only as Stacy) stays mercifully silent throughout which is a blessing as she looks as if she has been modelled on a Little Britain character ("I'm a lady!").

Things are going swimmingly until five bandits jump through the windows, slaughter most of the people, and make off with the vases. The Thai head of security, Sawang Pumkum, stays with his dying boss - ignoring the bandits - until the minister has the presence of mind to tell him to get the vases back. Pumkum then leaps out of the window and chases after the bandits. By the time he catches up with them, they have slaughtered most of the palace guards who were ahead of him. The Pumkum takes out all of the bandits but is unable to find the vases (the bandits somehow had time to bury them several feet beneath where they were standing), so he kills himself in order that the others are not blamed.

We then cut to 2007 where Pumkum's twin grandsons (Mike B, times two) are praying for him at a shrine. Their ages..? Certainly under 30... Let's see; if their grandfather died in 1897, then their father would have had to have been born before... I'm not saying it's impossible, you understand. Anyway, one of the vases is dug up, which excites the interest of one of the descendents of the original robber gang who is now a leading mafia figure (Russell Wong). A small paramilitary guerrilla army also takes an interest in them. And the surviving twin, with a beautiful archaeologist (Sai Charoenpura) in tow, becomes involved in the hunt as well.

Needless to say, everyone turns out to be an expert in at least one form of the martial arts, and the non-stop action gradually erodes the cast until good triumphs over evil. The tone of the present-day scenes reveals that we are heading in that direction, so it's not going to ruin it for you if I point this out. Let's face it; if you're the kind of person who is going to be intrigued by the plot then you're hardly likely to be reading film reviews. Mike B's muay thai is pitched against Wong's aikido, and that is the true heart of the film. If you're not a fanatical martial arts fan then this film is probably best watched with a six-pack - and I'm talking beer, not muscle tone.

This DVD comes with a six-minute making-of documentary and a couple of trailers for better films. The Warrior's Path also seems to have been released under the nonsensical title of The Sanctuary; a fact that should be mentioned to prevent unintended multiple viewings.



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