Being consumed by video games will get you nowhere. Well, unless you become a professional gamer or get an esports schollarship to college… Or perhaps like in Enter the Warriors Gate you just happen to magically transported to China to save a princess. Because yeah, those two are connected.
You know, I just keep hoping that a Luc Besson movie will hit really big again. I get a little excited when I see his name attached to something because I’d really love to see a legitimate US release of the Taxi series after the disaster of the Fallon and Latifah vehicle. Unfortunately, Enter the Warriors Gate will not be the movie that helps make that happen. Here’s to hoping for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
Anyway, that isn’t the film we are looking at here. What we are looking at is an ordinary man put in extraordinary situations and becomes great with fish out of water mixed in for good measure. Jack is a bullied teenager who loves video games and mediocre stunt biking. His mother is a single mom struggling to make ends meet and keep their house. When Jack isn’t being a hero in video games, he also works at a local Asian antique store. The owner gifts him a basket as a thank you for all his help.
Now, sometimes these antique stores have some surprising items hidden amongst them. It turns out that this basket is a magical portal to an ancient Chinese kingdom ruled by Drax. Oh wait, Dave Bautista is playing a warlord named Arun this time. So, a warrior Zhao trying to protect his princess Su Lin from Arun, brings her through the basket to Jack’s home for safekeeping. When she isn’t kept so safe there and is taken back to Arun’s kingdom, Jack and Zhao must return to through the portal to rescue her. And so Jack finds himself in a land much like his video game as well as the need to become a hero just as in his game.
What works in this flick? Well, much of the overall ideas work. A teenager is transported to another time and place to save someone. The idea works well enough in The Forbidden Kingdom at least. But that is a different, better movie. The idea of a teenager learning from a warrior and develop self respect to stand up to an enormous challenge when he previously couldn’t stand up to a bully works in many movies. Just not as well in this one. So these ideas work fine, just in better movies.
So what doesn’t work? Well, almost anything. And I’m not just talking about the ridiculous portrayal on how easy it is to make a video game. The action is only okay and it is rather sparing. In between is moments of Jack getting to know the princess and Zhao. And Zhao trying to teach Jack to have some courage and honor. The acting is nothing to write home about and the actors I know seem wasted here. Dave Bautista doesn’t really showcase any real action that he should be capable of as a former wrestler. What he does well here is the comedy, which they use far too sparingly. When he makes jokes and plays up the dark humor, the scenes work. All three minutes of them. And honestly, the main character does nothing for me. Maybe he appeals to a much younger audience, but nothing here.
It isn’t that Enter the Warriors Gate is terrible. It is actually rather inoffensive as a piece of entertainment. However it really just doesn’t do much of anything all that well. And everything it succeeds at, other better known movies have done better. It will probably please young teenagers as it portrays a teenager becoming a hero through fantastical events, but that is about it. This is more miss than hit and drags far too often.
Technical Side: 4/5
Enter the Warriors Gate looks great. Ancient Chinese scenes are beautifully shown here. All the lush vegetation displays very lively colors. There are the moments of overly polished looks in the heavy CGI shots, though. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is equally satisfying. The fights sound great and make good use of the surround while still keeping dialog clear. I never had to refer to subtitles for any of the dialog regardless of scene.
Special Features and Packaging: 3/5
Audio Commentary with Director Mathia Hoene: I generally don’t love commentaries by one person, but this was pretty lively. He definitely tries his best to bring people into the world of making films and tries to sell people on following their dreams. Surprisingly enjoyable listen.
Beyond the Gate: Making of Enter the Warriors Gate: Short bit with just short interviews and some limited behind the scenes footage.
The Journey East: Bridging the Cultural Divide: This is a production that filmed in China as well as focusing on a character being transplanted into ancient China. This focuses briefly on the cultural implications of both.
Deleted Scene: A scene of Jack being lured off by triplet sisters. And Zhao practices some dance moves. I believe this was left in the Chinese release. So now you know what they got overseas.
Enter the Warriors Gate has a fairly standard packaging presentation from Lionsgate with a slipcover that matches the cover art.
Unfortunately, Enter the Warriors Gate doesn’t really do anything new or particularly well. It is mildly enjoyable, but rather forgettable. The release does however look and sound great. The commentary is actually quite good and worth the listen. Overall, that brings the release up to a solid meh. I suspect this will drop to a budget price pretty soo. Definitely hold off until then.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.