Reviewer's grade: C-
Victor Salva's "Peaceful Warrior" is a predictable, often cheesy example of the film genre we can call "sports inspirational," with Zen master as coach. Calling to mind films like "The Karate Kid," TV shows like "Kung Fu" and books like "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," Salva's heavily meaningful film focuses on the triumphant enlightenment of Dan Millman (Scott Mechlowicz), a testosterone-driven, meat-chawing, beer-guzzling gymnast at California State University at Berkeley.
Dan meets a mysterious sensei in coveralls at an all-night Texaco full-service station and becomes pure, vegetarian and teetotaling. As the mystical mechanic, Nick Nolte gives new meaning to the slogan, "You can trust your kar(ma) to the man who wears the star."
Based on the real-life Millman's book, "The Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives," the film has a few genuine moments, but faults because of its preachy/teachy insistence on enlightening us all, seekers or not. Rated PG-13
"Kathryn Jenson White