One You Might've Missed #15: Peaceful Warrior


by: Brad Sturdivant

Finding diamonds in the rough is a wonderful feeling, but in order to do so, you usually have to watch a lot of bad movies. takes the pain away by recommending a movie that you may have never heard of, or missed when it first came out.

You have to be careful with “inspirational” movies.  If the movie is, in fact, inspiring, then the filmmakers probably know that.  A lot of filmmakers have a tendency to really play up that angle and the result is usually a sappy mess.  Other times, you have an inspirational movie that’s actually a religious movie.  Those turn out to be propaganda films and if you happen upon one you don’t agree with, you’ll be in for a long two hours.

But a good inspirational film is one that tells the story like it is and it just happens to be inspiring.  Such is the case with PEACEFUL WARRIOR.  It’s a pretty simple story about Dan Millman (Scott Mechlowicz), who is a talented collegiate gymnast, living the dream life.  But his world is turned upside down when he gets in a horrible accident and his gymnastic career is seemingly over.  But he learns to overcome his injury with the help of a mysterious mentor (Nick Nolte) and his mentor’s beautiful daughter (Amy Smart).

Some of you will recognize Scott Mechlowicz from the teen movie EUROTRIP, but he has some acting skills and he shows them here.  Dan’s character arc is a joy to watch as he goes from the spoiled, jock brat to the enlightened soul, appreciative of the second chance life has given him.  When you keep in mind that the story you’re witnessing is true (for the most part), it’s that much more fascinating.

So what makes this sports story different from countless other sports stories that feature athletes overcoming the odds?  On the basic level, nothing.  What this movie does that others sometimes fail to do is take us through the range of emotions and the changes that Dan went through.  He didn’t just overcome an injury, he actually learned a whole new way of living his life, which is really what the film is about.  And that’s also what sets this sports movie apart from the rest.  It’s great to overcome odds to achieve athletic success, but it’s even better to live a better life in the process.

Like I mentioned, the film does have a spiritual side to it that is a little hit or miss.  It’s not religious by any means, but there are some supernatural elements to what he goes through that could possibly be a detractor to naysayers.  It’s tough to explain exactly what I mean by “spiritual”, but Nolte’s character represents a cleaner, more focused way of living your life.  It’s not linked to any specific religion, it’s really just an “enlightened” way of living.  I think even the director (Victor Silva) had a tough time explaining it because he attempted several different ways of explaining it, each working to a varying degree of success.

Personally, I felt certain elements were exaggerated for dramatic effect, but the overall message was that of strength, honor and overcoming life’s challenges to find success.  Regardless of how those messages are wrapped, it’s a message that all of us need to be reminded of once in a while.

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