February 23, 2006 -- “The Warrior” is a starkly beautiful and poignant film of evil, family, transformation and redemption set in ancient India. Although it is a Hindi language film made in India, featuring Indian actors it isn't a fully Indian film. Instead, it is a truly international film with Indian, British and Japanese overtones.
Very loosely based on a Japanese story about a Samurai warrior and his son, this internationally-financed film is directed by Asif Kapadia, a British director of Indian descent. The story follows Lafcadia, a Rajput warrior (played by Irfan Khan of “Salaam Bombay!”) from the deserts of Rajasthan to the high valleys of the Himalayas as he seeks to flee his violent past. Lafcadia works as an enforcer for a warlord in Rajasthan. His job is to kill those who would oppose the warlord and to punish villages which failed to meet the warlord's demands for tribute. After a number of years, Lafcadia has had enough of killing and decides to run away. This proves to be an even more difficult thing to do than Lafcadia thought it would be. The warlord orders the rebel warrior killed, resulting in many more deaths of innocents. The warrior loses his way, but then sets a course for the Himalayas.
The warlord's warriors pursue Lafcadia and his son, Katiba (Puru Chibber). Suffering, Lafcadia flees across the desert and takes refuge in the mountains. Along the way, he picks up a companion, a young thief named Riaz (Noor Mani). The warrior is haunted by the thought that he, or some of his fellow warriors, may have killed Riaz's family. Lafcadia also meets up with a mystical blind woman who can see the future (Damayanti Marfatia) as well as being gifted with deep insights into people. Gradually, the hardships of the journey burn away Lafcadia's evil past and he is transformed by his arduous journey. When he arrives in the highest mountain villages he is at last ready to start living again, but his past isn't ready to let go of him just yet.
The film features spectacular mountain and desert scenery and compelling performances from the lead actors. The powerful story makes this a good road movie. Like many road movies, it raises the question of whether or not people can change their nature from evil to good, or vice versa, just by changing scenery. The idea of redemption is a powerful one. The idea of transforming the self through a journey is one which resonates powerfully both in literary and film history. Road movies are an especially strong tradition in the United States, where the vast landscapes of the west have inspired countless such movies. This is a worthy addition to the genre. It rates a B.
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