While mucking around Wikipedia during an idle moment at work I came across a list of the most notable box office bombs. The list intrigued me as it included several movies I liked, or at least tolerated. It made me wonder why films that people poured time and resources into could end up in the dung heap. So I decided to cherry pick a few movies to see if I can discern why these movies failed and if they deserved such a fate.
Choosing the first film I looked at was a surprisingly easy task. For my first instalment I put before you The Warrior’s Way. An East meets West action flick released in 2010 it somehow managed to completely fly under my radar. How on Earth could I possibly have missed seeing this one in the theaters? The movie’s premise had just about everything I want in a film, so I had to watch.
In the 1900s the greatest swordsman in all the world gives up the life of an assassin for The Sad Flutes after he refuses to kill a baby girl who is the last of an enemy clan. Taking this baby, he escapes to the West to visit another retired assassin. There he meets a rag tag bunch of circus folk who now reside in this dilapidated town. After taking over the town’s laundry (I kid you not, an Asian working in a laundry) he begins to enjoy the quiet life of an ordinary person instead of a warrior. Whatever you expect that can happen in a movie does so I don’t think I need to worry about spoilers.
There are battles aplenty between the renegade and his former clan, but it was all pretty standard fair. The overuse of slowed-down action sequences a la 300 didn’t help their cause at all. And then you have how the martial artist in the Old West is not a new motif anymore. In fact I can safely say others have done it better. It is much darker in tone than Shanghai Knights, which could have turned off a lot of people. Also it is listed as an Asian fantasy. I don’t buy it. There is very little fantasy about it. In spite of these issue it is a pretty good movie and deserves better than the 30% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes. The movie is flawed yes, but it deserves better. It has Geoffrey frickin’ Rush for crying out loud! Does that mean nothing?
That being said it was pretty inevitable it would fail. Within a week it was pulled from 99% of the theaters it was showing in. People’s expectations for a martial arts action flick tend to lean towards more action and less plot. This one flipped it around where there was more plot and less action. Much like the Jet Li movie Unleashed it relied much more heavily on story than other films of its type. I can see why it would have been a flop. Though to get such a low rating is beyond me. It is worth watching at least once. Maybe twice. Three times? Not so much.
Next up: The Black Cauldron