WAR sets up the viewer with promises (Jason Statham, Jet Li in his first movie as a straight actor i.e. post-martial arts), but for the most part those promises are not delivered. What is put on the screen for what seems like an endless evening is more killing with guns, knives, fire, explosions, and every other kind of death device imaginable delivered by minimal story and substandard acting. It is loud, gory, and boring - until the final few minutes when the story actually gains a plot.
Lee Anthony Smith and Gregory J. Bradley came up with a minimal tale taking place in San Francisco, a rivalry between a Chinese gang and a Japanese gang, peppered by revenge, contraband goods, and a hefty dose of non-balletic fighting. Jason Statham sleepwalks his way through his role as FBI agent Jack Crawford with an attitude and a grudge, assisted by his partner Special Agent Wick (given a nice turn by Mathew St. Patrick of 'Six Feet Under') and Benny (the always fine character actor Luis Guzmán, even here!). The head of the wealthy Chang gang (John Lone of 'The Last Emperor') is obtaining a prize antiquity from Japan's Shiro Yanagawa (Ryo Ishibashi) and gang and Rogue (Jet Li) is the agent. After what seems like hours of car chases, motorcycle chases, constant killing, beheadings, sleazy tearoom scenes, etc the identity of the Rogue (apparently much changed by multiple plastic surgeons who likewise loose their lives...) is made clear - a fact that provides some answers to Agent Jack's grumpy personality.
This is a film without a core and one that is easy to understand its box office failure. And unless the viewer is in need of a 103 minutes of steady violence, this film is a must miss - even for fans of Statham and Li. Grady Harp, January 08
WAR (aka. ROGUE ASSASSIN, Asian title) is the 2nd movie that puts together Jason Statham and Jet Li. Remember, "The One"? I don't blame you; I barely recall the film myself. This film has a very interesting cast; two popular action stars set to collide in the big screen. With fight choreography by Corey Yuen, it looks very promising. Did it deliver on its expectations? (I've been reviewing too many Korean films of late so I thought I'd review one that I saw in theaters months … more
This poorly directed movie is also a big letdown as the viewer is looking for an epic fight between the two biggest martial arts stars that never really happens (they fight uninspired for about 30 seconds). There was also the possibility of either star taking on the female martial artist from Sin City and that never happens either. In this one Statham is an FBI Agent who is hunting Rogue (Li), an assassin who supposedly killed his partner and partner's family. … more
I'm a huge fan of action movies. I have yet to see a movie with Jet Li or Jason Statham that I didn't like. This was a "keep you on the seat of your pants" movie that kept me entertained until it was over. I can't believe how much of a difference Blu-ray can make!
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Pitting Hong Kong legend Jet Li against UK tough guy Jason Statham seems like a surefire way to generate on-screen heat, and action fans will get a good deal of just that from the action-heavyWar. Unfortunately, they also have to slog through a clichéd-riddled story about world-weary FBI agent Statham, who's gunning for Li, the master assassin that killed his partner years before, and who's currently neck-deep in a turf war between yakuza and triad gangs. Philip G. Atwell's style-over-substance direction doesn't help matters either, though he does have a way with shootouts and other combative set pieces. As for Li and Statham, their scenes together are surprisingly limited; there's also a twist in the film's final third that begs for serious suspension of disbelief. In short, those that found the duo's last movie team-up (2001'sThe One) lacking won't find much here to supplant that memory. The DVD includes three commentary tracks: one by Atwell, one by screenwriters Lee Anthony Smith and Gregory J. Bradley (it's the liveliest of the lot) and an audio trivia track that delves deep into the film's production, which is also covered in detail by nine separate featurettes. A gag reel and deleted/extended scenes round out the supplemental features.-- Paul Gaita