Peaceful Warrior

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Peaceful Warrior Movie Poster Image
Like Karate Kid -- without the karate.
  • PG-13
  • 2007
  • 120 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Through mentoring, Dan evolves from a cocky, disrespectful guy with an appetite for casual sex, junk food, and drink into a better person. Socrates demonstrates compassion for difficult people and even refuses to fight his way out of a robbery. (But some of Socrates' stunts -- like sitting in the rafters of a gym -- shouldn't be emulated.)


Dan suffers a leg fracture from a car accident in a clinical close up. He also gets a mild taste of Socrates' martial-arts skills, but the older man later refrains from using violence in an alley brawl and mugging.


Glimpses of the hero in bed with assorted girls (suggestive of his manly jock status on campus).


A big plug for Texaco gas, and there's a natural tie-in with the books (and seminars) of author Dan Millman.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking. To Dan's surprise, Socrates doesn't abstain (which one might expect of a mentor type).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although the content in this inspirational sports drama is fairly mild -- the hero parties a lot and sleeps with a string of women in the beginning but eventually transforms his life -- it won't be interesting to most kids and tweens. It's better suited to teens who are prone to thinking about self discovery and analysis. The somewhat-New Agey tale is based on a true story and deals with big issues like inner emptiness and the meaning of life -- not exactly light entertainment.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bylegaleagle April 9, 2008

Keep your kids away...No better yet, stay home with them!

This movie was nothing like the reviews I had read - until the last 20 minutes of it. The first 60+ minutes were horrible: dark, disturbing, and violent. I re... Continue reading
Adult Written byJhamms July 14, 2020
Teen, 14 years old Written byY0URM0M July 20, 2020

Have to be mature to understand the meaning

This movie is all about the mental mindset and living in the moment. This movie is just about the meaning behind the story and would only be interesting if you... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bytamika April 9, 2008

What's the story?

In the college town of Berkeley, Calif., star gymnast Dan Millman (Scott Mechlowicz) is popular with his teammates and the co-eds. He's earned a reputation for arrogance, but beneath his cocky exterior Dan has nightmares that are symptomatic of feeling driven, fearful, and unhappy. One night at a gas station, Dan meets a silver-haired attendant (Nick Nolte) who seems to see right through to the young man's insecurities -- and then proceeds to astound Dan with a feat of superhuman agility. The younger athlete later returns to the station hoping to learn the old man's secrets. "Socrates" becomes a gruff guru to the kid, making Dan do menial chores and lecturing him about how to be a "warrior" in life -- less in the fighting sense than in achieving a state of being completely aware, attuned, present, and undistracted at every moment. Dan proves to be an impatient student and stops visiting Socrates out of frustration with his slow progress and his eccentric mentor's sometimes-infuriating behavior. But when Dan suffers a potential career-ending injury, he must call upon Socrates' teachings to persevere.

Is it any good?

There's something sweetly sincere about how PEACEFUL WARRIOR sticks to self-improvement. Especially when you consider how often storytellers in and outside of Hollywood tend to conjure up simplistic antagonists -- aliens, drug smugglers, serial killers, vampires, orcs, hostile commie gymnasts from the USSR -- as obstacles for a flawed or uncertain hero to overcome. Dan's conflict is with himself, end of story.

That said, the dialogue is often hokey and preachy, the special effects and soundtrack music work a little too hard to tell viewers things they might have figured out on their own, and the film feels long at 120 minutes. On the plus side, Nolte gives a pleasantly low-key performance as the curmudgeonly Socrates; a lot of his Obi-Wan/Yoda/Master Splinter stuff is pleasantly unpredictable. Will watching Peaceful Warrior make you a better person? That's hard to say, Grasshopper. But it probably won't make anyone worse, and that's something of an achievement.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the goal of inspirational "mentor" tales. What do movies and TV shows that follow this kind of storyline have in common? Who are they trying to reach? Why do you think so many involve sports? Families can also discuss Socrates' sometimes-mixed messages about drinking, fighting, health and discipline, and being "in the moment." A lot of these points are alluded to in other martial-arts flicks, but they're often lost in a fog of kung-fu fighting. Do you think this film's non-violent approach is more effective?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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