The Warrior (2001) – movie review

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Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Irrfan Khan, Aino Annuddin, Puru Chibber, Mandakini Goswami, Noor Mani

Director: Asif Kapadia

Award winner and Hackney boy Asif Kapadia spent months in the parched deserts of Rajasthan in North West India to film THE WARRIOR, a visual epic come morality tale. The Warrior is Lafcadia (Irfan Khan), a man who has notched up a fair number of beheadings, rapes and general pillage points in service to a bored Lord and Master of the Rajput people. The Master holed up in his fort, is a man who can’t even be bothered to look up when one of his subjects is parted from his head for not paying his tithes.

Lafcadia and his son Katiba live just outside the fort compound with no evidence of a mother or wife figure. Feared by the Rajput people, the Warriors are expected to protect their Master until death, and Lafcadia’s son hopes to follow his father’s example and join them when he is old enough. But Lafcadia has reached a crossroads in his life – he is tired of killing innocent villagers and decides to risk death by leaving his Master’s service and venturing back to his homeland in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Cutting off his hair, the trademark of the Rajput Warrior, Lafcadia seeks a blessing from the Gods before he embarks on his journey. Katiba, still in love with the idea of being a Warrior himself, has another idea though and decides to go back home while his father prays. There he is taken hostage by the other Warriors who themselves have been threatened with death if they do not bring Lafcadia back to the Master. Forced to go back to rescue Katiba, The Warrior witnesses the death of his son by Biswas his second in command. The event paralyses him. But life is not so easy to give up, and the Warrior is hidden by a sympathetic blacksmith who sends him on his way towards the Mountains and the beginning of his spiritual journey.

The story is told visually, with little dialogue – and based on a Japanese folk story has a timeless quality of a morality tale – man searching for meaning in the face of evil. Lafcadia is joined by Riaz an orphan who witnessed the death of his family in a pillage by Warriors when he was a boy and it is as if Lafcadia is being given an opportunity to face the crimes of his past. Sometimes the device seems rather obvious, but the performances of Khan and Noor Mani who plays Riaz, as well as the sinister Biswas (Sheikh Annuddin) deflect from making the film too contrived. And it’s a pleasure to watch if only for the stunning backdrop of Rajasthan.

4 out of 6 stars