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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Warrior's Way

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

The West was never wilder than it is in "The Warrior's Way" (Relativity), Korean writer-director Sngmoo Lee's genre-melding U.S. feature debut.

But, while it starts out as a conversion story, this frequently striking piece of cinema—a larger-than-life blend of martial arts, duels in the sun and operatic emotion—winds up graphically celebrating the very violence its hero has ostensibly rejected.

Said hero—a Samurai named Yang (Jang Dong-gun)—is the world's greatest swordsman, a fighter trained from childhood to kill without remorse. His stony heart is touched, however, when his murderous path leads him to the infant girl who is the lone survivor of a rival clan.

Yang's decision to spare the baby is viewed as an act of treachery by his own allies, a gang known as the Sad Flutes, and by their leader—and his mentor—the Saddest Flute (Ti Lung). So Yang escapes and seeks out an old friend who had emigrated to the American frontier.

Arriving at his destination, a ramshackle crossroads called Lode, Yang learns that his erstwhile pal is dead. But the circus folk who inhabit Lode—including warmhearted little person Eight-Ball (Tony Cox) and amiable town drunk Ron (Geoffrey Rush)—are welcoming enough, while spunky local lass Lynne (Kate Bosworth) proves a further draw.

Yang's newfound resolve to remain peaceable is swiftly put to the test, however, when the demonic Army colonel (Danny Huston) who slaughtered Lynne's family when she was a girl—and nearly raped her—returns in a bid to wreak fresh mayhem.

The confrontations which follow, though highly choreographed, are nonetheless gore-soaked, with veins spurting and heads and limbs hacked off with Ginsu-style precision. The moral waters are further muddied by the script's implicit endorsement of Lynne's quest for revenge against her vile, inhuman persecutor.

The film contains excessive bloody violence, the attempted rape of a minor, a vendetta theme, about a half-dozen uses of profanity and a few crude and crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.


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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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