Cute and corny ‘Warrior’s Gate’ visually pops out | Inquirer Entertainment

Cute and corny ‘Warrior’s Gate’ visually pops out

By: - Writing Editor
/ 12:10 AM December 01, 2016

Uriah Shelton (left) and Ni Ni

Uriah Shelton (left) and Ni Ni

A geeky American kid gets introduced to a foreign culture and helps save the day in “Warrior’s Gate,” a fantasy-comedy film that unfolds like a typical teenage daydream—except that it’s mostly wholesome.

The French-Chinese production, a weird mishmash of the “unlikely hero” type of films with martial arts epics that preceded it, makes up for its lack of originality with showy and frenetic visuals. But even they get quite uninteresting after a while.


It centers on nerdy Jack Bronson (Uriah Shelton), an exceptionally skilled gamer, who is hounded by school bullies. He narrowly escapes them, however, and avoids further conflict. But an antique chest in his possession is revealed to be a doorway to an ancient, magical version of China, where a princess, Sulin (Ni Ni), is pursued by a barbarian warlord, Arun (Dave Bautista).


Jack joins his staunch warrior ally, Zhao (Mark Chao), in planning the rescue of the beautiful and feisty maiden, who is about to be forced into a wedding with her conquering adversary. But Jack, skilled mainly at playing computer games, lacks the necessary abilities to survive in a realm populated by bloodthirsty swordsmen and mystical monsters.

Matthias Hoene’s “Warrior’s Gate,” cowritten by producer Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, has a lot of similarities with “The Forbidden Kingdom,” which starred Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Michael Angarano in 2008. From the boy mentored by Asian fighting masters to its message of standing up to your tormentors, “Warrior’s Gate” gives viewers a number of especially baffling déjà vu moments.

Mark Chao

Mark Chao

The time-traveling princess also gets a taste of contemporary culture by getting a hip makeover at the mall, in scenes heavily inspired by fantasy and sci-fi films from the ’80s—“E.T.,” “Date With an Angel,” “Splash” and a bunch of other films easily come to mind. Add a brief smattering of the more recent “Step Up,” and you’ve got an incredibly clichéd hodge-podge of a film.

Be that as it may, it’s still somewhat fun, despite going through entirely cutesy, clumsy and corny routines that we’ve seen a thousand times before. It’s a forced, cross-cultural, effects-drenched epic, but it has an attractive cast, an amusing villain and snappy editing—ultimately unmemorable, but it’s distracting and aesthetically pleasing enough.

Dave Bautista

Dave Bautista

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TAGS: films, Luc Besson, Warrior’s Gate

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