Peaceful Warrior

  • Review Date: June 25, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 120 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Like Karate Kid -- without the karate.
  • Review Date: June 25, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 120 minutes





What parents need to know

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).

Not applicable

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).

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.

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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?


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, there's something sweetly sincere about how PEACEFUL WARRIOR sticks to self-improvement. 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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:March 30, 2007
DVD release date:June 26, 2007
Cast:Amy Smart, Nick Nolte, Scott Mechlowicz
Director:Victor Salva
Run time:120 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sensuality, sex references and accident scenes.

This review of Peaceful Warrior was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bytamika April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Adult Written bylegaleagle April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

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 received the tickets free...probably because no one would pay to see it...It was the worst movie I have ever seen in my life, and I felt like a terrible parent for taking my children to see it!
Teen, 13 years old Written bySqunky April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Great Movie with a great message

This movie really teaches people to find their inner self and only live in the current moment. This movie did contain a few innapropriate scenes and a motorcycle accident which cause one of the characters to shatter his leg. The beginning of the movie also contains a disturbing scene in which the character dreams of literally shattering his leg while doing gymastics. Apart from the brief profanity, this movie sends out a great message.


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