The Warrior Shiro Sagisu

If I were in a better mood, I'd try to coax out the cultural complexities of a Korean film that casts a bunch of its countrymen in a suicidal attempt to defend Chinese royalty. But it's impossible to care about such niceties after enduring the pointless spectacle of The Warrior, which for all of its huffing and puffing is closer to being a silent movie melodrama than something made for the early 21st century. Set in 1375, it features a group of Korean emissaries being treated as spies by the newly victorious Ming dynasty and exiled to the desert; there they meet up with a kidnapped Ming princess (Zhang Ziyi) and wind up defending her from encroaching Mongols. The group's secret weapon? A painfully loyal slave (Jung Woo-Sung) who kicks improbable ass and takes names if he feels like it. By all rights this should entitle us to some righteous action scenes with a decent amount of zip, but though it's quite pretty it still moves as fast as frozen molasses. The "loyal subjects save princess" plot can't sustain the weight of a130-minute epic, and the whole thing just collapses under the weight of unearned solemnity. I hate to be one of those loathsome critics who solve problems by suggesting cuts, but I can't see a single reason why this movie had to be so long when it has so little to say and such little enthusiasm in saying it. By midpoint you're dying for some variety, but it just keeps plugging away with its shallow theatrics until you're beaten into bored submission. The only extras are the Korean and American trailers and some TV spots. (Sony)