In an attempt to employ 80s fantasy film traits for a modern teen audience, Cockneys Vs Zombies director Matthias Hoene’s follow-up scuffles like an embarrassing dad at a birthday party yet throws some slick twists into the mix. From Producer Luc Besson and co-writer Robert Mark Kamen (The Karate Kid (84), The Warrior’s Gate should be an adventure film for all ages but feels like watching an over-jaunty kid’s TV show with an apocalyptic hangover. A hyperbolic energy installed by glossy visuals, tight choreography and a punchy plot propels it for the better part but its ill-governed start and finale combine with gaudy designs to form a noxious faux fantasy/ action cocktail which crushes its commendable facets.

Teen gamer Jack Bronson (Uriah Shelton) lives with his financially struggling single mother Annie (Sienna Guillory) in a picturesque suburban neighbourhood. While working part time as a store clerk, Jack is asked by his manager to take care of an antique casket, out of which, one day, pops Princess Ni Ni (Su Lin), who is on the run from various sword wielding warriors. Jack befriends and westernises Ni Ni into a mall-loitering moron, before she is suddenly abducted and whisked back to her time. With the help of a soldier ally, Zhoo (Mark Chao) and a time-travelling wizard (Francis Ng), Jack steps through the portal in the hope of rescuing Ni Ni from being married against her will to the tyrannical barbarian king Arun (David Bautista).

The Warrior's Gate

Fist bumps, break-dances, beat-boxing and slang are spat out incessantly but may alienate older viewers TWG is trying to win with its 80s movie references. Bouncy set-pieces involving soup-stirring mountain spirits and CG nymph lizards cushion brilliantly choreographed battle scenes and violent yet bloodless martial arts. A bike chase echoes ET and BMX Bandits while training sequences evoke those in The Karate Kid. Time Bandits springs to mind during a scene when Jack is visited by a time travelling warrior who emerges from the casket at night like the dwarves in Gilliam’s classic. Manga, Xena and Miike’s The Great Yokai War tints meld well with sword and sorcery facets to form a frequently fun and spicy b-movie only one that’s corrupted by stock mawkishness. But, despite its gauche, maudlin elements, The Warrior’s Gate is, for the most part, enjoyable.

Bautista is delectably dry, doing the dim lug thing we love him for so well, but too many defects make Hoene’s film resound as thumping but throwaway fluff. The special effects are atrocious and cardboard cut-out characters have humdrum/ template arcs. Jack is bullied yet quixotically cool, too much so to be a put-upon nerd and you can tell how his story will end as soon as he is introduced. Other brash facets include a fetid visual palette and soon-to-be kitsch soundtrack which contributes enough energy for the story to soar with synthetic vigour but it’s an indisputably featherweight slap of mechanised dross. TWG may appeal to younger viewers but will result in a sugar overdose/ bubblegum lobotomy in anyone over thirty and at 108 minutes, it goes on for far too long.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
The Warrior's Gate
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Daniel Goodwin is a prevalent film writer for multiple websites including HeyUGuys, Scream Horror Magazine, Little White Lies, i-D and Dazed. After studying Film, Media and Cultural Studies at university and Creative Writing at the London School of Journalism, Daniel went on to work in TV production for Hat Trick Productions, So Television and The London Studios. He has also worked at the Home Office, in the private office of Hilary Benn MP and the Coroner's and Burials Department, as well as on the Movies on Pay TV market investigation for the Competition Commission.