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Peaceful Warrior

A movie directed by Victor Salva

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How the Other Half Lives

  • Jul 3, 2007
Dan Mellman (Scott Mechlowicz) was a golden boy. Having the world at his feet, he enjoyed being the star gymnast on a star team for The University of California, Berkeley. But there was something missing. Going through girlfriends, including stealing his best friend's, Dan had a cocky attitude that kept him empty and up at night. Fortunately, his three A.M. sojourns for snacks at an all-night gas station lead him to a mysterious, older man sarcastically nicknamed Socrates (Nick Nolte) who seems like Yoda, but in all seriousness. In his peace arsenal is the ability to startle someone by getting up on the garage roof when no one is paying attention. Here they meet, and the sage man offers wisdom that is only greeted with a sneer and Dan's smart mouth. Offering more than change for snacks, he also tries to relieve insomnia. ("People are afraid of the inside--That's where everything important is.") The meetings recur, but so does Dan's dream life that bring omens of misfortune. In some of those dreams we see impressive confrontations from two forms of Dan. (One I believe represents his ego, and the other is his spirit, and the unsettling division presented show us the split of a person yearning for the whole.) Dan needs to "let go of his ego". Tragedy then does visit as his unconscious foretells, and he must deal with it. But his recuperation needs more than crutches, he needs a steady guide to cope with his inner fracture as well.

'Peaceful Warrior' is a unique and excellent adventure. It could have been good as an inspiring sports' film, but it goes beyond that. The sparring between Dan's ego and Socrates' wisdom creates another whole venue, complete with scenes that show Dan coming to grips with himself. Nolte plays Socrates with grizzled beard and gravelly voice, but shows us a peace warrior who is no wimp. Confronting Dan quietly, he gives him the strength to confront himself. Some of the joy of this movie is listening to Dan and Socrates espouse their wisdom, like Greek teacher and student. 'Peaceful Warrior' could have been a hokey failure, but they really deliver in this refreshing film choice. (Based on Mellman's autobiographical account.)

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More Peaceful Warrior reviews
review by . October 23, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: never thought I'd say it, Nick Nolte     Cons: ...     The Bottom Line:   'cause I get a peaceful, easy feeling   and I know you won't let me down   'cause I'm already standing on the ground"  ~Eagles       I went into this movie at a slight disadvantage; trying to not make my extreme distaste for Nick Nolte overshadow the production. I will be the first to admit I not only enjoyed …
review by . June 29, 2007
Some films make a difference: viewing them can give us a story that is memorable and leave the viewer with powerful food for thought that continues to influence thinking long after the film is over. Such is the case for PEACEFUL WARRIOR. Based on a book by Inspirational Guru Dan Millman and beautifully adapted for the screen by Kevin Bernhardt, the story combines the best in sport stories with the infusion of spiritual discovery that despite the abundance of 'Hallmark-like' imitations, stands nobly …
About the reviewer
John L. Peterson ()
Ranked #100
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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About this movie


Based on his series of philosophical books, this is the story of Dan Millman (Scott Melchowiz), an arrogant college gymnast who finds a guru in the form of a mysterious gas station attendant called Socrates (Nick Nolte). Poised to qualify for the Olympics, Dan is nonetheless troubled and Socrates seems to have the answers. It's an intensely personal journey that Dan is invited to undergo, with Socrates seemingly able to influence Dan's dreams and knock him into states of heightened awareness. It all gets to be too much, and Dan gives up the training, but when a motorcycle accident shatters his leg Dan may not have anything else left. He has to learn to let go of the person he thought he was and start living in the moment by appreciating the journey and accepting his lack of control over the future. Though undoubtedly allegorical, much of the film rings true (it's based on Millman's life) and Nolte gives his stoic, grizzled best in a difficult part. Director Victor Salva (POWDER, JEEPERS CREEPERS) clearly...
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