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Overall Rating

Awesome: 21.05%
Worth A Look: 0%
Just Average36.84%
Pretty Crappy36.84%
Sucks: 5.26%

2 reviews, 7 user ratings

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Peaceful Warrior
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Inspirational melodrama the Victor Salva way--grim and creepy"
2 stars

One of the most flat-out strange items to come along the pike in a while, “Peaceful Warrior” desperately tries to tell an inspirational story of spiritual awakening but winds up coming off like an overtly homoerotic riff on “The Karate Kid” coated with a gooey glaze of holistic hooey that make the gibberish spouted in “What the #$^@ Do We Know?” seem sound and rational by comparison.

Based on the book by Dan Millman (a tome that is unread by me and will no doubt remain so),Scott Melchlowicz stars as Millman, a vain, glory-seeking gymnast who nevertheless finds himself oddly drawn to philosophical gas station attendant Socrates (Nick Nolte), mostly because he seems to have the kind of vertical lift usually seen only in Harrier jets. (At one point, he apparently jumps up from the ground to a rooftop approximate 20 feet in the air.) Socrates tries to instill wisdom in Millman but finds it all falling on deaf ears until the punk pulls a Roethlisberger and is told that he will never practice gymnastics again. Having hit bottom and lost everything that he once held sacred, Millman is now able to accept wisdom and enlightenment of Socrates and attempts a comeback that, based on the extent of his injuries, would seem to be an impossibility.

Never as transcendent as it seems to think that it is, “Peaceful Warrior” is yet another tale of someone triumphing over adversity and the only new wrinkle is the New Age mumbo-jumbo that is liberally sprinkled in at random–one expects a certain number of inspirational montages in a film like this but this may be the first time I have ever seen a montage consisting entirely of someone spouting a series of pseudo-profound spiritual insights (and I might have been more impressed with the sequence if all the insights didn’t sound as if they had been taken directly from a stack of greeting cards). Another problem is that the central character of Millman is so thoroughly unlikable and uninteresting throughout that when he finally has his spiritual awakening, it is virtually impossible to care about what happens to him.

The film has been directed by Victor Salva, known to some for “Powder” and the two “Jeepers Creepers” films and known to others for a questionable past that includes a conviction for child molestation. Normally, the latter fact is something that I wouldn’t bother to mention at all–I don’t recount Roman Polanski’s misdeeds when writing about his films–except that Salva seems to have a perverse fascination with larding his work with dialogue and imagery that is so blatantly suggestive that even those without any knowledge of his past might conclude that something funny was going on. In “Peaceful Warrior,” this tendency of his winds up dominating the proceedings so thoroughly that it winds up leaving a bad taste in the mouth of anyone watching. I suppose that, considering the subject of the film, one can overlook the long, lingering shots of glistening young men bending and stretching and twirling about while going through their gymnastic routines. I can even ignore the oddness of the furtive, nocturnal meetings between the callow youth and his older and wiser mentor (although that get laid on so thick that it feels at times as if co-star Amy Smart was hired to play the film’s beard).

However, what am I to make of a screenplay in which a gymnastics coach enters a gym asking his charges “Who else has some good stuff to show me today?”, a teammate asks Millman, after an astounding practice, “You think you can rub a little of that magic onto me?” and Millman asking two of his practicing teammates “Make it a threesome?” Either Salva has no idea how bad those moments come off, in which case he must be an idiot, or he knows exactly how they are coming off and is trying to beat his critics at their own game by commenting on his own cinematic proclivities, in which case he must be kind of creepy. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure which of the two choices is more disturbing.

The only thing that works in “Peaceful Warrior” is the compellingly oddball performance by Nick Nolte–while I don’t necessarily buy him for a second as the guru type, I will admit that the goofy aphorisms that he is forced to deliver (“Knowledge is not the same as wisdom” being the most coherent of them) seem to come more naturally from him than they might have from another, saner actor. Other than that, the film is a weird, vaguely disquieting and always uninteresting dose of self-help silliness that is by turns deeply disquieting and inadvertently hilarious. If you are looking for a film that combines sports with philosophy, you should probably stick with your DVD of “Caddyshack”–“Be the ball” is a statement far more wise and profound than anything on display here.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14684&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/23/06 01:18:27
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User Comments

2/15/10 Nazeli I recomend this movie to all teenagers to watch 5 stars
3/03/08 Pamela White I learned much about living in the moment 5 stars
1/12/08 Servo Some nice cinematography but dull and horribly hokey. 2 stars
10/14/07 fools♫gold Pretty, but has some disagreeable moments (and sayings). Still, the story's believable. 3 stars
8/26/07 William Goss An overwrought, New Age-y mess, with extra stale sports cliches on top. 1 stars
4/12/07 Anikka I found this movie inspirational but if you don't like says you'll hate it. 5 stars
6/03/06 DudeAsInCool Don't listen to the wannabe critics - see the movie and enjoy yourself. It's uplifting. 5 stars
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  02-Jun-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 26-Jun-2007



Directed by
  Victor Salva

Written by
  Kevin Bernhardt

  Scott Mechlowicz
  Nick Nolte
  Amy Smart
  Ashton Holmes
  Agnes Bruckner
  Paul Wesley

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