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'Safe' Starring Jason Statham

A movie directed by Boaz Yakin

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Predictable and Outlandish...But an Enjoyable and Energetic Action Thriller

  • Apr 30, 2012
Honestly, I have been a little sad that despite his acting talent, Jason Statham seems to have been reduced by Hollywood to a typecast that puts him in one mediocre action flick after the next. I know the man has talent judging from his movies in Europe but it seems as if Hollywood is so desperate for an action hero that this is all the work he gets offered here in the U.S.. Going to see “Safe” I was prepared for more of the same, and really, I was not expecting much. I was dragged to see this flick; well, because a friend of mine has a thing for shaved headed dudes who can do martial arts. It seems like she did me a favor with this film directed by Boaz Yakin.

                    Jason Statham as Luke Wright in "Safe."

A second-string cage fighter in the mixed martial arts circuit named Luke Wright (Jason Statham) lives a hard life of beatings for chump change. He usually is the kind of fighter one would use to elevate another’s standings…until the day came when a lucky shot made him blow a rigged fight. Now the Russian mafia makes an example of him as they murder his family and banishes him from his life. Luke is left wandering the streets of New York, tormented by his guilt and wracked by the knowledge that he will always be watched; that anyone he befriends would also be killed. One day, he witnesses a 12 year old Chinese girl named Mei (Catherine Chan) who is being pursued by the same gang who had killed his wife. Luke goes into action and is now caught in a high stakes war between the Triads and the Russian mob. Luke soon discovers that Mei is no ordinary kid, but one with the uncanny gift to absorb any kind of detail when it comes to mathematics and that she had been forced to work with the triads as a counter. Mei holds a priceless secret that has now made her a target by the criminal elements as well the corrupt cops of the NYPD.

                         James Hong as Han Jiao and Catherine Chan as Mei in "Safe."

                         Catherine Chan as Mei in "Safe."

“Safe” is your pretty standard set up for an action movie. It does not pretend to be much more nor does it try to add some unnecessary meat to its simple plot that is more meant to drive the action sequences. The film borrows elements from “Mercury Rising” and the Korean hit “The Man From Nowhere”. The direction allows for mild characterization in the film’s first act as a sort of a montage as we get to know Luke and Mei in a rhythm of sequences that reveal much about their recent past as the viewer gets to know them. You get to know their situation to heart and you could understand why they are stuck in this fate. The main supporting players are introduced in a sense where the viewer gets to see their relevance in our protagonists lives, and this in turn makes the stakes a little more involving than usual. There are some emotional moments in the first act. The drama within the scenes may not be anything special, but they credible attempts to make sense of what was going on and why the fates of Luke and Mei are due to be intertwined.

Director/writer Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans) moves quickly and keeps the film’s pace very tight. The script is indeed pretty simple and so once he establishes the groundwork, he takes the film into overdrive. The film becomes insanely action-packed as soon Luke meets Mei. The film is essentially a chase film that uses the plot to generate tension and suspense in the action sequences. Yes, one wouldn’t be hard-pressed to say that “Safe” is a stunt show; the film has a lot of stunts, gunplay and fight sequences that drive the film’s momentum. The direction gives not much room for story development, but Yakin does what he can by introducing a few new twists and complications that can make Luke’s life more challenging. The fights are gritty and tough, and the direction does not step back from the graphic displays of blood and violence. This will attract a lot of action junkies.

                  James Colby as Detective Mears, Barry Bradford as Detective Benoit, Robert John Burke as Captain Wolf, Jason Statham as Luke Wright, Matt O'Toole as Detective Lasky and Jay Giannone as Detective Kolfax in "Safe."

                 Catherine Chan as Mei and Jason Statham as Luke Wright in "Safe."

“Safe” is a story of redemption and finding a new purpose in life. True, the screenplay may be a little flimsy and feels more formulaic than other movies of this kind, however, Yakin did make good use of what he had. Statham is in a very familiar role with the film. He did have a few dramatic moments that allowed him display some of his acting know-how, but this is Statham at his best--he fights a lot of bad guys and kills most of them. He does manage to form a chemistry with Catherine Chan, as the two felt like they really did have this strange bond that needed little words for it to be defined. Most of the bad guys are your cardboard cut out baddies, but hey, it makes dispatching them much more fun. The cinematography by Stefan Czapsky moves fast and keeps the action close as to make the viewer feel like he is close to the action.

                          Jason Statham as Luke Wright in "Safe."

“Safe” is one movie that won’t be an action classic but it had a lot of things going that the film is easy to like. I also have to commend the way the direction avoided certain clichés in the final act and I was pleasantly surprised how Luke’s confrontation with his supposed nemesis turned out. It made a lot of sense, avoided a perfunctory element and showed a very clever touch in its screenplay. I do have to admit that the film opened up a lot of questions and made several missteps along the way which required a suspension of disbelief. Not really sure if those things were intended by Yakin, but they were minimal things that I could easily ignore because of the film’s brisk pacing. Yakin is a better action director than writer.

Yes, I am still puzzled why Statham is allowing himself to be typecast in this manner. But at least “Safe” proves to be one of his better action movies to date.

Recommended to Action Junkies, a RENTAL to Everybody Else. [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]

                          Poster art for "Safe." 

Predictable and Outlandish...But an Enjoyable and Energetic Action Thriller Predictable and Outlandish...But an Enjoyable and Energetic Action Thriller

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May 01, 2012
Thank you for a persuasive and interesting recommendation. I've heard mixed responses to this one so you've nudged me more toward wanting to see it. And I think you got it right: "I am still puzzled why Statham is allowing himself to be typecast in this manner." It's not all Hollywood's fault. It's a shame Statham doesn't seem interested in doing more. You're right that he could.
April 30, 2012
I wanna see this one but you are right his films in Europe have shown how good he can be outside action.
April 30, 2012
Yeah, I know. Statham has better roles from the U.K. He does have talent for action movies, but he can be so much better than that.
More Safe (2012 film) reviews
review by . May 02, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Is it just me, or are these Jason Statham action films becoming harder and harder to tell apart? They say to go with what you know, but blast it all, I need to know if this man is capable of something other than fight choreography and witty one-liners. Safe is yet another film that exploits his physicality and completely ignores his potential for actual acting. On the basis of just about every movie he has ever been in, filmmakers don’t regard …
review by . November 26, 2012
SAFE Is Everything You Expect from a Jason Statham Picture, But It Could've Been More
Despite what some may think, smart action films are not an easy sell.  They require a script with some backbone, and that means a strong villain, some solid supporting players, a dashing but tarnished hero, and plenty of excellent stunt work.  The stakes should be easily identifiable by the audience, and all of the players need to be uniquely fit into their respective roles.  In other words, a bad guy without a clear and understandable goal can muck it all up in a real hurry, and …
review by . April 27, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
'Safe' 'Two Jews On Film' Exchange Blows Over This Non Stop Action Thriller (Video)
            By Joan Alperin Schwartz   First off, I must say that there are some actors that I just enjoy watching...Doesn't really matter all that much what they do up on the silver screen...I just like them...And Jason Statham is one of them.      Is he a great actor?  That's yet to be determined, but he's definitely an entertaining one.   …
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About this movie


  • Opened April 27, 2012 | Runtime:1 hr 35 min
  • R-Language and Strong Violence Throughout

    Poster art for "Safe."
  • A second-rate cage fighter on the mixed martial arts circuit, Luke Wright lives a numbing life of routine beatings and chump change...until the day he blows a rigged fight. Wanting to make an example of him, the Russian Mafia murders his family and banishes him from his life forever, leaving Luke to wander the streets of New York destitute, haunted by guilt, and tormented by the knowledge that he will always be watched, and anyone he develops a relationship with will also be killed. But when he witnesses a frightened 12-year-old Chinese girl, Mei, being pursued by the same gangsters who killed his wife, Luke impulsively jumps to action...and straight into the heart of a deadly high-stakes war. Mei, he discovers, is no ordinary girl, but an orphaned math prodigy forced to work for the Triads as a "counter." He discovers she holds in her memory a priceless numerical code that the Triads, the Russian mob and a corrupt faction of the NYPD will kill for.
  • Cast: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Robert John Burke, James Hong, Anson Mount, Chris Sarandon
  • Director: Boaz Yakin
  • Genres: Crime Thriller, Crime
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    Director: Boaz Yakin
    Screen Writer: Boaz Yakin
    Runtime: 1 hour 35 minutes

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