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Miramax Pictures presents
The Warrior (2001)

Riaz: You're a warrior, aren't you?
Lafcadia: I used to be.

- Noor Mani, Irfan Khan

Review By: Nate Meyers  
Published: May 02, 2006

Stars: Irfan Khan
Other Stars: Noor Mani, Puru Chhibber, Sheikh Annuddin, Manoj Mishra, Nanhe Khan, Chander Singh, Hemant Maahaor, Mandakini Goswami, Sunita Sharma, Anupam Shyam, Damayanti Marfatia
Director: Asif Kapadia

MPAA Rating: R for some violence
Run Time: 01h:26m:34s
Release Date: May 02, 2006
UPC: 786936696110
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+A-B- B-

DVD Review

The promotional artwork for and title of Asif Kapadia's The Warrior give the impression that it may very well be a cheesy 1970s martial arts movie, but it isn't. Its Hindi language suggests that this is an Eastern motion picture, but Kapadia's British upbringing makes it unmistakably western. The fact that its story is the kind of thing Bollywood is known for would make one think it's a lengthy epic with musical numbers, but most of the film plays without any dialogue, let alone song and dance. Like Terrence Malick's films, The Warrior is a philosophical, esoteric mood piece, the meaning of which is largely found in a viewer's interpretation of the images.

The plot is astonishingly simple. Lafcadia (Irfan Khan) works as a thug for a local warlord, but rebukes the ugly violence of this life while raiding a village. He flees off into the desert with his son (Puru Chhibber), only to be chased by the warlord's remaining henchman. Many of the key characters are never actually named and the screenplay, by Kapadia and Tim Miller, is not concerned with Lafcadia's physical trek. This is a deeply spiritual movie, chronicling the warrior's inner odyssey from a life of murder to... well, I'm not sure what. Actually, that's not entirely accurate. Looking at the striking cinematography that captures the Indian mountains and deserts with breathtaking clarity, I have my own opinion about what happens to Lafcadia and where he finds himself when the closing credits roll. However, my interpretation is likely to be different from yours and thus I don't want to taint your own viewing of the film.

Here's what I will tell you: while traveling to his home village, Lafcadia encounters a thief (Noor Mani), a blind woman (Damayanti Marfatia), and a young girl (Sunita Sharma). There's no backstory to any of these characters, and the same goes for Lafcadia and his son. Their interactions are cloaked in mystery, with the actors scarcely speaking lines to one another. Irfan Khan is quite memorable in the title role, accomplishing more with his somber looks of a man lost in life than words ever could. There are scenes of violence and danger as the warlord's thugs track Lafcadia, but there's no need to discuss them here. Despite its lush visuals, Kapadia's film is not an adventure or an epic. It's about a single man whom the audience is expected to read. The result is a movie that is wholly ambiguous in terms of character and theme.

The most striking element of The Warrior is how much it demands of the audience. Failing to absorb a single shot can cause you to read a scene entirely differently. The direction is patient, probably too much so for mainstream tastes, and the action relatively unimportant. The characters don't act like you'd expect, yet there behavior seems entirely fitting at all times. This is truly an enigma of a film—I can't even figure out why I find it so rewarding. I just know that when the closing credits rolled, I felt like I had come to understand something.

For his first feature-length film, Kapadia has created a dense, obtuse work of art. His command of the medium is evident and the crew turns in stunning work, with meticulous editing and a wonderful score helping to establish the story's tone. I suspect that this is the kind of movie that deepens with repeated viewing and discussion, opening new horizons that can't be taken in on the first go-round.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is stunning, with excellent detail and clarity. Depth gives the picture a nice filmlike look and blacks have good shadow detail. Some shots come across as harsher than others, but I suspect this is a result of the source material.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 Hindi track doesn't make much of an impression. Most of the mix plays in the front sounds stage, with only minimal directionality and separation. The surround speakers are barely engaged and are somewhat under-mixed when used for the film's score. It isn't distractingly bad, but just not what you'd expect from a 5.1 track.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Deep Blue, Zu Warriors
21 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Asif Kapadia
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Before the main menu there are trailers for Deep Blue and Zu Warriors. Each is shown with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and the Deep Blue trailer sports a 1.85:1 image. Extras pertaining to the movie begin with a feature commentary by director Kapadia. He is articulate and pleasant to hear, but focuses far too often on minutiae about shooting locations and the weather. He does explain some of his filmmaking cheats, however, and also discusses his own difficult about returning back to filmmaking after a few years' hiatus.

Next is an excellent documentary, The Making of The Warrior (44m:04s). Kapadia provides an interview, as do principal cast and crew members, but the real highlight of the feature is its extensive focus on the actual production. Containing an enormous amount of behind-the-scenes footage, just about every facet of the movie is touched upon—from writing to shooting to music to editing. For anybody who wants to learn more about filmmaking, this is a great resource.

However, things aren't so hot with the 21 deleted scenes. Playing all together (01h:04m:12s) in 2.35:1 widescreen and Dolby Stereo, the audio and image are not finished here. Frankly, these aren't deleted scenes so much as they are slightly different edits of material in the film. Often times I didn't even really know what the difference was and when I did the extra footage didn't contribute much. Kapadia offers a commentary here, also. There's a tremendous amount of silence throughout and he really just explains the general reasons for why things are cut out of a movie. (It's called "pacing," in case you don't know).

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

A confounding, fascinating debut, Asif Kapadia's The Warrior may ask too much from its audience to win easy approval, but should prove rewarding to those who invest themselves in it. The anamorphic transfer serves the cinematography well, even though the extras and audio transfer aren't as accomplished.


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