Peaceful Warrior
Why won’t you love me?

Theatrical Release Date: 06/02/2006
Director: Victor Salva
Cast: Scott Mechlowicz, Nick Nolte, Amy Smart

Have you been missing “The Karate Kid”? Do you need another Mr. Miyagi in your life?

Well, don’t look to “The Peaceful Warrior” to fill that void. In a nutshell, this film is a metaphysical slap in the face to fans of the 1984 classic starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita.

I understand that the film is based on a true story but after seeing the film, either writer Dan Millman is in need of psychotropic drugs or I was one of the few rational people in the theater.

The story is about a wannabe Olympic gymnast (Scott Mechlowicz) who must overcome his own hang-ups, insecurities and fears to rise to the occasion. Along the way, he meets a mysterious man played by Nick Nolte who will help him be all that he can be … or something like that anyway.

Nolte’s character is given the name “Socrates” by Mechlowicz and you never find out his real name. You never find out about his back-story. Hell, you never find out if he’s real.

Really, the best comparison I can draw to how the teacher-student relationship works in this film is to reference the hallucination of the character of Jason Stillwell in “No Retreat, No Surrender”. In that film, he imagines Bruce Lee comes to him and trains him in the use of martial arts.

I believed that film more than I believed this one. Anyone who has seen that 80’s gem now knows what kind of guffawing is necessary to sit through “The Peaceful Warrior”. Also in reference to that early Jean-Claude Van Damme work, it was far too easy to notice which gymnastic scenes were Mechlowicz and which were his stunt double.

I wanted to get up and leave a few times but wanted as much ammo for this review as possible. That’s the kind of dedication I have to you, the reader.

On the plus side, Mechlowicz’s performance is good for the most part and the audience is treated to Amy Smart running in clingy athletic wear a few times. Actually, she ran so much in the film I was beginning to think this was the long awaited sequel to “Run Lola Run”.

For my own personal gratification, Olympic gold medalist Bart Conner makes a cameo as a gymnastics commentator. Seeing him only made me wish I could stop the film and go watch “Rad”.

Have I mentioned I didn’t like this film?

I suppose I should really name names now and get this review over and done with. The director is Victor Salva. In some circles, he’s hailed as a visionary director. Personally, I think people in those circles should be rounded up and sterilized.

Salva has made one somewhat interesting film (“Powder”) and a number of dumb horror films (“Jeepers Creepers” AND “Jeepers Creepers II”). Oh and for good measure, according to his biography on IMDb, he’s a convicted child molester who in 1988 confessed to five felony counts of sexual relations with a twelve-year-old boy who he videotaped in sexual situations.

Moving on to the next culprit, “The Peaceful Warrior” has one of the worst scores since “Timeline”. It’s way too overbearing and tries to make each moment far too important. Also, there are so many uses of stingers (loud, sudden notes of music to jolt the audience) that if you were drinking on each one, you’d better hail a taxi for the ride home.

Crap, the score is so bad the composer isn’t even listed on IMDb. I had to find the moron (Bennett Salvay) through another review that was ripping his idea of how to match music with film.

Okay, I’m done with this review. The short, simple response I have is to recommend everyone save their money to throw at children. It’s a much better use of it (make sure to convert any bills into change first).

While some of the performances were decent, there just wasn’t enough character development for anyone but Mechlowicz and even he doesn’t have a back-story.

The film as a whole is a bit of a mess and I’m baffled at the two or three people in the audience who applauded at the end. Maybe there was a short bus waiting at the curb outside that I didn’t notice.

I’m giving “The Peaceful Warrior” a 1 out of 5. I was going to give it a 2 but I can’t see recommending this to anyone without a Nolte fetish.

By the way, the four of you can sit down and shut up now.