Forbidden Warrior (2004) Movie Review

Some days it sucks to be a movie critic. And then there are days when you have to sit through pointless, nonsensical junk like Jimmy Nickerson’s “Forbidden Warrior”, a movie so Godawful that if you were to shoot a film in your backyard with your dad’s old Super VHS camcorder, and somehow convinced that slow kid next door to run into a wall over and over again so you could film it, you would still have a better movie than “Forbidden Warrior”. And the most unforgivable aspect of “Warrior”? There’s actually some money in this thing. Not a whole lot of money, mind you, but some money that could have been better spent hiring Martha Stewart to hunt down Osama Bin Laden armed only with a toothpick and a sewing kit. Or possibly convince Ashlee Simpson that just because her big sister is a TV and music star doesn’t necessarily mean she should, or could, be one, too.

Filled to the brim with pretenses of quality and the mistaken belief that it’s actually worthwhile, “Forbidden Warrior” is so lacking in every measurement of “quality cinema” that even the world’s most undemanding viewers would be hardpressed to find even a tiny glimmer of entertainment value from its 90-minute run. At best, the movie stars Marie Matiko, who made quite an impression when she undressed in Wesley Snipes’ souped up muscle car in the boorish and overly long “The Art of War”. Poor Matiko is trapped in a movie written by one of those Plot-O-Matic 6000 scripting machines, where plotlines concerning “the chosen one” and “the prophecy” gets a lot of airplay, never you mind that they’re as generic as century old corn on the cob. Or as convincing as Keanu Reeves knowing kung fu by plugging a metal stick into the back of his skull.

The film’s big (as in, incredibly insipid) plot twist is that Matiko’s Seki was supposed to be a boy, thus in the beginning everyone is talking about how “he” (i.e. the chosen one) will be born and rule the world and be the only one to read a super magical book and make the perfect omelet and all that other super duper stuff only “the chosen one” in formulaic movies can do. But surprise! Seki turns out to be a girl. Oh my, can you smell the creativity? Given up for dead, Seki is taken by Andrew Divoff (in a blink and you’ll never care cameo) as some kind of Gandalf-lite, who takes Seki to blind guy Tony Amendola, who genre fans may recognize from his days battling Gou’ald scum on the long-running TV show “Stargate SG-1”.

While Seki grows up in the woods with Amendola’s wizard by way of those montage sequences you’ve seen in 6 million other films, we learn that the evil warlord who had tried to kill Seki when she was being born is still out to get her. He sends his two sons, the passive Doran (Sung Kang) and the aggressive jerk Locust (Karl Yune, “Anacondas”) to find Seki and bring her back home so she can read the warlord’s super magic book. Apparently the guy’s not just evil (his house is covered in shadows and his walls are made up of red gel, apparently), he’s also illiterate. And did I mention he’s evil? If his attempts to kill poor Seki when she was a kid weren’t enough to convince you the guy is a rotten egg, every time we see him there’s ominous music, and — gasp! — the notorious Al Leong, with his scraggy beard and long hair, is always by his side. Surely, nothing says “Evil Bad Guy” than having Al Leong for a sidekick.

It’s not bad enough that there isn’t a single original bone in “Forbidden Warrior’s” body, but the film is drowning in an obnoxious soundtrack that has as much subtlety as being hit on the head repeatedly with a sledgehammer. Worst, nothing happens for much of the film, and we’re left to watch Seki and her blind old guy wandering around the forest talking in dialogue so stilted that you would swear these people learned their lines phonetically. As this is supposed to be one of those “lost in ancient times” films, of course every line of dialogue is devoid of contractions because, you know, that’s how people talked in olden fantasy/this-never-really-happened days.

The script is so devoid of even an inkling of original creativity that it can’t make up its mind where the film is set, or what this fantasy world is supposed to look like. Everyone seems to have Japanese names, but most of the actors are non-Japanese, with the exception of Matiko. There are even Westerners (such as Divoff and Amendola) playing Japanese-named characters for some strange reason only the filmmakers can possibly comprehend. Then again, if everyone has a Japanese name, why are they all dressed like Mongolians, or Chinese boxers? There’s a lot of talk about being a “Kahn”, too. But of course asking all these questions is pointless, as there’s nothing remotely coherent about “Forbidden Warrior” that would justify honest questions in the first place.

The entire origin of “Forbidden Warrior” seems to be this: two untalented writers sitting in front of their respective TVs watching all 3 volumes of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” movies, then some helpings of those ridiculous “Harry Potter” films, and followed it up with Zhang Yimou’s “House of Flying Daggers” and “Hero”. They then immediately ran to their respective computers with the bright idea of merging all the movies they’ve just seen into one movie, believing that if they take a little bit from here, a little bit from there, that the mass audience won’t notice they have not a single shred of originality. And apparently since they realized “Pirates of the Caribbean” made a lot of money, the writers also threw in pirates halfway through.

Well congratulations writers Rod Hewitt and Glen Hartford. You’ve written just about the silliest and most vacuous film I have ever had the displeasure to see in 2005. And although there are still 8 months left, I’m reasonably certain no other movie could possibly surpass “Forbidden Warrior” for sheer pointless nonsensical random nonsense.

Jimmy Nickerson (director) / Rod Hewitt, Glen Hartford (screenplay)
CAST: Marie Matiko …. Seki
Sung Kang …. Doran
Karl Yune …. Locust
Tony Amendola …. Ajis-Aka
James Hong …. Muraji
Andrew Divoff …. Ujis-Aka

Buy Forbidden Warrior on DVD