Phillip Noyce's tongue-in-cheek actioner, loosely inspired by Japan's popular Zatoichi series, is somewhat redeemed by the comic performance of Rutger Hauer as the blind swordsman. Despite the presumably limited demand for swordsmen in late 20th century America, Hauer's Vietnam vet happens to turn up to visit his former army buddy just when the latter's family is under attack. When he's forced to take the son cross-country to Reno in the search for his now-indentured friend, the film squeezes some humor out of his ability to handle a horde of well-armed thugs more easily than the recalcitrant kid. Often cast as the embodiment of evil, Hauer is surprisingly funny here, adopting a slack, helpless body language and an expression of beatific ignorance, suggesting that he has no idea that his flashing sword is mowing down a legion of bad guys. Of course, the one-joke script wears thin after awhile, but for those who can ignore the fortune-cookie aphorisms, it's a not unwelcome diversion.