"the people who are hardest to love, are usually the ones who need it the most."

— Socrates played by Nick Nolte, "Peaceful Warrior"


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“Peaceful Warrior” DVD

Starring Nick Nolte, Scott Mechlowicz, Amy Smart |

Released: 2006



Film/DVD review by Scott Mowry | 11-27-09


"Peaceful Warrior" is a perfect example of a film that most of Hollywood community and the American movie going public routinely ignore. While most movie critics dismissed it as nothing particularly special, the box office return for this 2006 release was even worse, and could only be described as embarrassing at best.

Yet, upon further review, this is a film that has plenty to offer for those looking for an inspiring and uplifting viewing experience. And couldn't we all use a little bit of that now?

Based upon the best selling book, "Way of the Peaceful Warrior," written by Dan Millman, this is the type of inspirational movie that we simply do not get nearly enough of, sad to say.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood dream factory continues to churn out the big budget, brain dead dreck that appears to be designed more to frighten than enlighten us.

Yet "Peaceful Warrior" is a quiet, introspective film, bereft of loud explosions and sappy romance, but high on insight and spiritual richness.

Director Victor Salva, has done a admirable job of adapting "Peaceful Warrior" from the popular book. Not an easy task, mind you.

Nick Nolte plays the role of spiritual advisor, Socrates, to gymnast Dan Millman, (also the author of the book), played by a young unknown actor, Scott Mechlowicz.

At the tender ago of 21, Dan finds himself in a mid-life crisis, of sorts. How many 21-year olds do you know that go through such a crisis?

Despite becoming a highly competitive and successful gymnast, having the support of a well-to-do family and never lacking for friends or female companionship, Dan wrestles with a gnawing anxiety of the true meaning of his life.

He has a recurring nightmare of a horrific accident while performing his gymnastic routine on the high bar, as he witnesses his own leg shatter into tiny little pieces.

One restless late night, after awakening from his terrifying dreams, he meets a mysterious man working at service station near the Berkeley campus where he attends college.

This man he calls, Socrates, challenges Dan's mind and ego in ways he could have never imagined, while also freely dispensing a variety of wise and sage words of wisdom.

Naturally, not long after connecting with Socrates, the arrogant Dan reaches a nadir in his life, as he painfully learns to surrender his ego and his chaotic mind. Eventually, of course, it is Socrates who teaches him to find his way out of his personal darkness.

Socrates' entire philosophy of life boils down to one simple, yet profound concept –– life is meant to be lived entirely in the present moment.

"Peaceful Warrior" has plenty of noteworthy lines and profound dialogue that will inspire you and leave you with a warm spot in your heart.

For instance, Socrates tells Dan on one of their initial late nights at the service station, "the people who are hardest to love, are usually the ones who need it the most."

He repeatedly tells Dan, "to throw out the garbage in your mind."

And later he says to Dan, "your training will move to a new level, where you will find your answers within."

Finally, when Dan emerges from his dark night of the soul he tells Socrates, "there is never nothing going on and there are no ordinary moments."

If you have ever read the book "Zero Limits," or familiarized yourself with the ancient Hawaiian healing art of Ho'oponopono, you will find this movie quite interesting and probably, at times, amusing.

It liberally synchronizes with the Ho'oponopono philosophy while never actually alluding to it directly. This is not to suggest that Dan Millman, the author, borrowed his ideas from Ho'oponopono, but rather just to make note of the amazing similarities between it and this film.

There is a perpetual theme of turning off the conscious mind and tapping into the unlimited power of the subconscious, where all answers can be found. A basic principle that both Ho'oponopono and "Peaceful Warrior" share in common.

This is not a perfect movie by any means. To be frank, it has its share of flaws. It is a bit difficult initially to see Nick Nolte as a deep and wise mentor, given his past tough guy parts and high profile personal indiscretions. But he does an admirable job with the role nonetheless.

However, Scott Mechlowicz is sometimes a bit stiff as the central character, but not to the point where he detracts in a major way from the film. And just to make a point of clarification, this is not a sports movie, but rather, it is a spiritual movie that revolves around the sport of men's gymnastics to tell its story.

And admittedly, I would have to say that the book, "Way of the Peaceful Warrior" is a lot better than the film adaption, thus my recommendation would be to venture into both.

But, instead of renting the latest murder mystery, or suspense thriller, or action adventure, give "Peaceful Warrior" a try.

You will be pleasantly surprised and you may find that warm spot glowing within your heart too.

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