Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler: 127 Hours on the Warrior’s Way

In theaters

A week of some interest from my perspective heads our way. Yes, it’s big news that Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours opens (at The Carolina and the Fine Arts), but I’ve seen it (twice). Both it and another opener, Cool It, are reviewed in this week’s Xpress. All that leaves is The Warrior’s Way. It occurs to me that if I work this right—meaning I palm off The Warrior’s Way on a certain particular person whom you know and I know—I can get something like the weekend off. The prospect of this causes me no pain. Granted that doesn’t get me out of writing a review for something else I’ve already seen that opens next week, and it doesn’t get me out of the “Screening Room” or the special screenings. (Come to think of it, though, one of those special screenings was somebody else’s idea.) But all things considered, it’s like a little vacation—which I’ll undoubtedly spend catching up with award-season screeners.

Now, from your perspective, the weekend should be all about 127 Hours. My full review appears in this week’s Xpress, but I’ll go ahead and note that Danny Boyle remains one of our absolute best filmmakers and that this is almost certainly going to be a contender at this year’s Oscars. I think there’s a good chance that the same can be said of Boyle and of the film’s star, James Franco. I haven’t seen Cool It (Justin Souther reviewed it), so I can’t say much about it, though I’m given to understand that it isn’t the right-leaning anti-global-warming movie that certain quarters were hoping for.

And what is this The Warrior’s Way? That’s a good question. The trailer—with its improbable concept of a Wild West character merely noting, “Ninjas, damn,” upon the arrival of said ninjas in town—looks agreeably silly. Actually, I think Ninjas, Damn would be a much better title than the pompous moniker they hung on it. It appears to be about a warrior-assassin hiding out in the Old West after he refuses an assignment. Naturally, a band of ninjas show up in pursuit. In other words, it’s going to be a cowboys-and-ninjas opus. The point seems to be to introduce “Korean superstar” Dong-gun Jang to western audiences. I confess, I’ve never heard of Dong-gun Jang—and no one seems to have heard of director-writer Sngmoo Lee. I have, however, heard of Kate Bosworth, Geoffrey Rush, Danny Huston and Tony Cox, who comprise the names in the supporting cast. So far, no one has reviewed it. You’re on your own.

Still hanging around this week are Fair Game (Fine Arts) and Tamara Drewe (The Carolina), though the latter has been reduced to three shows a day, so I wouldn’t expect it to hang around for a fourth week. While Inside Job takes its leave from the Fine Arts, it’s only making a short jump over to the The Carolina, so it’s around for at least another week.

Special showings

Well, we’re down to three this week—the Hendersonville Film Society takes December off—starting with The Midnight Meat Train (2008) from the Thursday Horror Picture Show at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 2, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema offers Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) on Friday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m. at the Courtyard Gallery in the Phil Mechanic Studios building. Peter Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? (1972) is the Asheville Film Society title on Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina.

On DVD

Whoa, this looks pretty grim indeed. The big title is The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Many thanks, no. Then we have the monumentally so-so Knight and Day, which is strictly in the “once was quite enough” column, and Vampires Suck, and in this case, once was way too much. I’ve never seen Diary of a Wimpy Kid, though I recall that Justin Souther was not unimpressed with it. It may, in fact, be your best bet. Certainly Going the Distance isn’t, and I don’t know about The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Notable TV screenings

OK, it’s another week on TCM where there’s not a lot that stands out to me. I suppose Lucio Fulci fans (I know they exist, I just don’t know why) would argue that showing The Beyond (1983) at 2 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, is noteworthy, so I’ll mention it. More interesting to me is Wesley Ruggles’ The Gilded Lily (1935) on Sunday, Dec. 5, at 2 p.m. Now, I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen this since 1974 at the latest, so my memory is hazy at best. I know it’s the first of several films Claudette Colbert co-starred in with Fred MacMurray. I remember it as a pretty clever satire on the whole idea of celebrity, with Colbert achieving a kind of star status by being dubbed the “No girl” for turning down a proposal from a nobleman, which she cashes in on by appearing in a night club and doing nothing (“This is it, boys, it’s all I do”) other than be pretty. The rest of you can do what you like, but I’m getting re-acquainted with it.

And then there’s Rowland V. Lee’s rather odd Zoo in Budapest (1933) on Monday, Dec. 6, at 3:45 a.m. (that’s late-night Sunday for those of us working on TV Guide time). This is probably more of a curio than anything else, but its curio value is undeniable. Gene Raymond plays Zani, a strange young man who works and lives at the zoo. He only relates to animals and is, in fact, so incensed by women who wear furs that he steals the garments from them (PETA would like this boy). He meets Eve (Loretta Young) and gets her to run away from the orphan group she’s with and live with him in the zoo. Yes, that really is the basic plot.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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11 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler: 127 Hours on the Warrior’s Way

  1. Dionysis

    “I suppose Lucio Fulci fans (I know they exist, I just don’t know why) would argue that showing The Beyond (1983) at 2 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, is noteworthy, so I’ll mention it.”

    For years and years, I heard (and read) that one “has never seen a real horror movie if you’ve not seen ‘The Beyond’.” Up until two years ago, I had not seen any Fulci movie. I then bought (for a cheap price) three of his films, including that title. After viewing them, I can easily understand your comment about why he would have fans. They were the among the lousiest excuses for horror films I’d ever seen. I guess inane plots with lots of fake gore constitute some people’s idea of real horror movies. The true horror is that they actually got produced and released.

  2. Naturally, a band of ninjas show up in pursuit.
    I understand BAND OF NINJAS is Robert Plant’s next project after the Band of Joy.

  3. Ken Hanke

    They were the among the lousiest excuses for horror films I’d ever seen.

    I’ve seen The Beyond, The Cat in the Brain and one other. I do not get the appeal.

  4. Ken Hanke

    I understand BAND OF NINJAS is Robert Plant’s next project after the Band of Joy.

    It beats The Honeydrippers.

  5. Me

    I’m still up in the air about 127 Hours I’ve heard parts of it are like an MTV music video. Then again some are comparing it to Into The Wild which i really liked, plus im not to keen on Danny Boyles films.

  6. Ken Hanke

    I’m still up in the air about 127 Hours I’ve heard parts of it are like an MTV music video.

    You could say the same thing about Abel Gance’s Napoleon (1927).

    Then again some are comparing it to Into The Wild which i really liked, plus im not to keen on Danny Boyles films

    I coulda made money betting on that last bit. Easy answer — don’t go.

  7. DrSerizawa

    BTW, has anyone heard anything about Cowboys vs Aliens? We saw the trailer at the Potter flick last w/e and it looks kinda cool. Seems an idea that has a lot of potential.

  8. Ken Hanke

    BTW, has anyone heard anything about Cowboys vs Aliens? We saw the trailer at the Potter flick last w/e and it looks kinda cool.

    Well, Cowboys & Aliens is supposed to come out on July 29, so it’s obviously in the Big Summer Release category. I have no problem with the trailer, though names like Spielberg and Brian Grazer tend to chill me, so it’s a kind of “we’ll see” thing for me. That said, I’ve liked everything Jon Favreau has directed to one degree or another.

  9. Ken Hanke

    For those who were wondering “Whatever became of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest,” I learned late yesterday that it’s opening this Friday at the Epic in Hendersonville. It will probably open at the Fine Arts in Asheville next Friday, but that won’t be certain till Monday.

  10. Will Lugar

    I don’t suppose we’ll be getting a review of The Nutcracker in 3D, which sports a 0% on the TomatoMeter?

  11. Ken Hanke

    I don’t suppose we’ll be getting a review of The Nutcracker in 3D, which sports a 0% on the TomatoMeter?

    Not unless someone’s wacky enough to book it, which looks unlikely. Gotta admit I wouldn’t mind seeing it.

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