WAR

2 Stars
Year Released: 2007
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 103 minutes
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It’s hard not to like a Jason Statham movie. “Transporter 2” set an unprecedented bar for ridiculous cinema, which was only topped by the even more entertaining “Crank” from last year. He’s the sort of actor who plays the same character in every film he’s in but you find yourself not caring because of how much fun you’re having watching him.

The career of Jet Li is a little different. This guy at least has a film like “Hero” in his filmography between movies like “Kiss of the Dragon” and “Unleashed.” In 2001, both Li and Statham teamed up for the science-fiction monstrosity “The One” (directed by James Wong). Now, six years later, they’ve teamed up again for “War” and the result is almost as disappointing.

Jack Crawford (Statham) and Tom Wynne (Terry Chen) are two FBI agents working on a case involving some Yakuza. When they get too close to wrapping up the case, Tom and his family are brutally murdered by a mysterious assassin named Rogue (Li). The rest of the film then consists of Crawford hunting him down.

Meanwhile, Rogue is looking for some revenge of his own. He begins pitting the Yakuza and Triads against each other (more so than they already were), like a modern day Yojimbo. And don’t be fooled by that reference because I was merely using that to compare plot details, not brilliance factors.

The final third of the movie is where the plot goes from the understandable to the confusing. It’s not the sort of confusion where you can’t figure it out; it’s the sort that has you questioning its motives. Certain events are laid out that just don’t add up due to the lack of detail throughout the rest of the picture. The screenwriters (Lee Anthony Smith and Gregory J. Bradley) were more interested in wrapping up the story with one last lame twist instead of in a traditional manner. If it weren’t for the last act, the film would have ended up being just as functional as any cheesy action film from the 80s.

Director Philip G. Atwell, perhaps best known for his music video work with Eminem and 50 Cent, makes his feature-length film debut here. His work is serviceable but the constant use of flashbacks and montages are enough to give anyone a headache. The straight-to-video editing job is sure to have you yearning for something different. Subtitles constantly tell you what location we are at, even though most of the film takes place in San Francisco. For anyone with a third grade education, it’s really not that hard to tell San Francisco apart from Japan.

Usually when a film has Luis Guzman in it, like this one does, it’s easier for me to look past the flaws. When you add Devon Aoki into the mix, no matter how bad her acting is, it becomes even easier. Especially when you add them both to a Jason Statham flick. For some reason (okay maybe multiple reasons), they don’t really help this picture out. Perhaps this movie would have been better off if it starred Steven Seagal and Tom Arnold.



Posted on August 28, 2007 in Reviews by
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