Jeepers creepers, Victor Salva is at it again. His new film is ostensibly inspired by true events, but whose events exactly? For several films now the director has used his clout to surround himself with attractive young males, molesting them in ways the law can’t punish: cinematically. For sure, no one undresses in one of his pictures of their own volition, and for at least half of the retrograde Peaceful Warrior, the story of an arrogant gymnast (Z)enlightened by a Kenny Rogers lookalike who works as a “service” station attendant, Salva props the male body as if he were designing a display window for Abercrombie & Fitch. (Why put on sports jackets when your creamy center—young, oily, freshly-torn pectoral muscles—is so yummy to look at?) That Salva’s chicken-hawk spectacles exist says as much about the man’s personal sexual wants as it does about Hollywood careerism. But everyone deserves a second chance, right? If so, Peaceful Warrior appears to suggest that Salva is attempting to exorcise his demons. “Socrates” (Nick Nolte) peels away at Dan’s (Scott Mechlowicz) cartoon petulance like an onion; when the kid gives up drinking-and-sexing, so too does Salva put the reins on his own lechery. This is how Peaceful Warrior evolves from specious homoerotic sap to more rarified Disney-friendly treacle. This might please the director’s psychologist (or parole officer) but it won’t sit well with anyone with absolutely no interest in revisiting American Anthem or The Karate Kid all over again, only this time pumped with laughable horror-film pretenses.
- Victor Salva
- Kevin Bernhardt
- Nick Nolte, Scott Mechlowicz, Amy Smart, Tim Dekay, Paul Wesley, Ashton Holmes, Agnes Bruckner
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