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Peaceful Warrior

A movie directed by Victor Salva

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Peaceful Warrior - 2006

  • Oct 23, 2008
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"

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 his performance but also thought he added both wit and whimsy to the movie.

Peaceful Warrior is based on the life of U of Berkley gymnast Dan Millman. Extremely accomplished on the rings, he is training to compete for the Olympic team selections. He also has a bit of showmanship, pushing himself to the limits of what his coach wants. Even though he is very talented, he still feels he could be better, be more, all in the guise of gaining happiness; the Olympic Gold. Millman is beset by strange dreams and finds sleeping difficult. Add to that his extra curricular activities, bad food, drinking and sex, he isn't exactly a quality athlete.

Late one night, after a particularly disturbing dream, he sets off on his motor cycle and discovers the most unusual person at the local gas station. Huddled inside this station, reminiscent of days gone by, we find, well, we never learn his name but Millman calls him Socrates. He hangs that moniker on him because Socrates bestows wisdom on him, sometimes almost homespun whimsy, trying to help him ‘get his head straight'.

As their relationship furthers, I am almost reminded of the scenes in Karate Kid with the wax on/wax off theory. Socrates applies the same unique style to help Dan clear the garbage out of his head and focus on the world around him, centering his being.

A freakish accident on his motorcycle, which you saw coming from the first time you watched him on it, leaves his gymnastic career, his Olympian dreams, diminished forever. Is it possible for this warrior to find the peace within himself to bring that dream to reality or will he be unfulfilled? Right, like I'd tell you.

Peaceful Warrior was directed by Victor Salva; written by Kevin Bernhardt from the novel by Dan Millman. It was nominated for no awards. It carries a PG-13 rating for sexual references, sensuality, and that blooming accident scene, which is minor in the visual.

Actors involved were Scott Mechlowicz who played Dan Millman. I don't know if he performed his own gymnastic material since it isn't stated, but whoever did was an outstanding athlete. He did, however, give heart and soul to the being of Dan Millman.

Socrates was played by Nick Nolte. Nolte provided an outstanding performance and probably looked better than I've seen him in decades, healthy and fit. I don't know if there was a Socrates in the real life of Dan Millman and I don't know if he even existed in this movie. Later when Dan and his friends return to the gas station it has none of the look or flavor that Dan viewed and the owner had no idea who they were talking about when they asked about Socrates.

Another bright spot in the movie was Joy, played by Amy Smart, a friend of Socrates and eventually of Dan as well. Especially since I read he now resides in California with his wife, Joy.

In real life Dan has authored 13 self-help books, including the one that based this movie. He won the 1964 World Trampoline Championship, co-captained the 1968 NCAA U of C gymnastic team, worked as gymnastic instructor at Stanford, and a professor of phys ed at Oberlin. His travels around the world studying yoga and martial arts have led to his new life as a spiritual and motivational speaker and author.

And Socrates was never seen again.

This is an outstanding movie that provides hope and the desire to obtain goals that seem out of reach. Film work and acting was done quite well and the physical work was incredible.


This movie is my submission to the Good Movies Write-Off 2, hosted by captaind


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More Peaceful Warrior reviews
review by . July 03, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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 …
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Susi Dawson ()
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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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