Peaceful Warrior (2006)

Dan Millman (played by Dan Mechlowicz) is a college gymnast that would appear to be at the top of the world in the film Peaceful Warrior. At USC Berkely he is vying to be "lord of the rings," has the respect of his teammates, and the eye of most of the females on campus. Of course, he is the life of every party. However, at the same time, his life is seriously lacking on a spiritual level.

One night he can't sleep, so he wanders down the road to the local gas station's "quickie mart" in the middle of the night. There he has an encounter with Socrates, a wise oldster portrayed by Nick Nolte. This Socrates clearly has great wisdom, and young Millman is more curious than in awe at first of the years of knowledge that Socrates possesses. Amy Smart ably plays Joy, another Socrates follower on the path to enlightenment, and the only female not interested in Millman, which of course makes him only more interested in her.

Conflict gets created when our young gymnast experiences a devastating motorcycle accident which just about ends his career. Now under Socrates' tutelage, we have Millman acquiring wisdom in a slow and painful process. This part of the film reminded me of the relationship of Luke Skywalker and Yoda in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, or the master & apprentice in The Karate Kid. The tasks seem inane at some points, but wisdom never comes without a price.

Millman is ready to retire, but Socrates encourages him to return to his passion- gymnastics. He faces an uphill battle as his coach has already written him off and put him out to pasture. Through persistence, he manages to make a comeback of sorts and makes it to the nationals. Unfortunately, the film just kind of ends there, and we're not told what happens afterwards to his gymnastics career, but I think it's safe to assume that Olympic gold wasn't in the cards.

One notable aspect of this film is that the entire thing is based on a true story. Millman is now an author, and he writes self help books about being the "peaceful warrior," and his spiritual quest towards enlightenment. Not having read the books, I'm not sure if this is an "only in California" thing or not.

In summary, I enjoyed the acting of the film, but like any good Mythbuster, found the plot itself to be quite implausible, except that gymnasts shouldn't be riding motorcycles. How did Socrates get on the roof of the garage again?

Overall Grade: B-


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