Hollywood takes a breather this weekend with only one new release, after lugging bags of money to the bank thanks to Harry Potter and Rapunzel. • Making things even easier on themselves, Relativity Media declined to schedule advance screenings of The Warrior's Way (R), a mashup of Wild West gunplay and Far East martial arts mayhem. • No, Jackie Chan didn't make another sequel to Shanghai Noon. • The Warrior's Way stars Dong-gun Jang — allegedly a big star in South Korea— as Yang, a ninja assassin who refuses to complete a mission and becomes wanted for ninja treason. Yang escapes to a frontier ghost town, where he meets two slumming actors: Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush and ever-ingenue Kate Bosworth. Then those jilted ninjas show up angry. • Cowboys and ninjas sound fairly normal compared with Cowboys & Aliens, coming next summer. But mixing Westerns and weirdness isn't anything new, as these movie combos of cowboys and whatever remind us.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at tampabay.com/blogs/movies.
Remember those Western images of cliffs lined with Indians on the warpath? You could do the same shot with famous filmland monsters, from dinosaurs in The Valley of Gwangi to Billy the Kid vs. Dracula. The latter film was half of a cherished childhood double feature, paired with Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter.
Of course, this outrageous idea came from Mel Brooks. The king of crudeness plopped a band of Indian mensches into Blazing Saddles, with Brooks sporting the chief's headdress and sympathy for African-American settlers "darker than we are."
In too many two-reelers to list, Roy Rogers would ride the range learning that varmints were terrorizing folks, then identify them as big-city mobsters. His trusty horse, Trigger, never had a problem catching up to those speeding sedans. Leaping onto the running boards was tougher.
Rather, cowboys were little people in The Terror of Tiny Town, a 1938 novelty still ranking among the worst movies ever made. Smart move to have good and bad guys riding Shetland ponies, but embarrassing that those swinging saloon doors remained at regular height.
A narrow niche, for sure. But when Doc Brown got trapped in the Wild West in Back to the Future III, Marty McFly steered that souped-up DeLorean in his chronological direction.
A diabolical amusement park called Westworld featured Yul Brynner as an android resembling his gunslinger in The Magnificent Seven. A remake is on the drawing board for 2012, with Russell Crowe rumored to take over Richard Benjamin's good guy role.