Plot: After his partner Tom Lone (Chen) and family are killed by the infamous and elusive assassin Rogue (Li), FBI agent Jack Crawford (Statham) becomes obsessed with revenge as his world unravels into a vortex of guilt and betrayal.
Reviewed852 words (Est. Reading Time 4m 15s)
Jet Li and Jason Statham – together again in War, fighting to the death in an action-packed thrill ride to outdo The One! That’s what I was thinking the first time I saw the preview for their latest film, War, back when it hit theaters in September.
Looking forward to seeing it for myself on DVD, I moved it up in my Blockbuster® queue, and received it in the mail the other day. While Heather had a few reservations about watching another martial arts action flick, she agreed to watch it today, so we settled in to watch War.
Jason Statham, who started out great (Snatch) and got better () did drop a few balls along the way to stardom (the wannabe badness of The Transporter pops to mind, plus is bound to be awful), but has managed to keep viewers around by making more good films than bad ones.
With War, he takes the persona people have gotten used to seeing from him (rough and tough) and tries to bring it to bear without the leadership of The One‘s Delroy Lindo to put him in line…and falters a bit. He can’t quite step into the leadership role, and instead seems to be more of a rogue cop who should never have been giving leadership status in the first place. He’s a bit off, and his obsession with tracking down the ghostly assassin should have gotten him demoted by this point, but the movie merely glosses over that.
Statham shows a bit of the maniacal “devil may care” attitude of ‘s Chev Chelios in War, but here it seems a bit out of place. He’s supposed to be more professional here, and he just isn’t. It marks him as a bad cop, and the viewer wonders what other criminals have escaped justice under his watch.
Jet Li, on the other hand, has lost some of his “cool” factor over the years, and seems unsure of his character’s motives in this film. It’s the most off-kilter performance from him in ages, and it’s profoundly disappointing. He was on such a high streak with a slew of movies that kept getting better (with being the best), and then he goes and makes this film, which seems more of a bad imitation than anything else. He seems more cowed in this film, despite the “rogue assassin” role he’s playing, and the viewer just wants to ask the director to give him more room on his leash (to run that metaphor into the ground).
Sadly, both performances are hampered by a rather pedantic script that tries to, for all intents and purposes, blatantly rip off sections of (sans the romance), and combine it with all the action of The One. Unfortunately, the plot fails to do more than showcase it’s inferiority to both films.
The surprise twist in the film is actually surprising, and probably sounded good on paper – but the execution is totally ruined on-screen. The twist is revealed a bit too late, leaving the viewer confused as to the the reasoning behind the characters’ actions until it’s almost too late. By the point the twist is revealed, the viewer has already almost given up on the movie, and there isn’t enough time left in the film for it to totally recover the lack of trust they’ve already installed in the viewer. That’s a real shame too, as the twist is one that totally changes the viewer’s sense of the characters, so if it had been played well, this twist would have totally knocked the viewer for a loop.
Going into a film with the name of War, the viewer is expecting lots and lots of violence – but yet again, War doesn’t really deliver here either. There are a couple of scenes of violence, but the climactic showdowns between Statham and Li are few and far-between, and incredibly disappointing when they do finally appear. Don’t build up the viewers’ hopes for some decent climactic scenes if you’re just going to deliver some bland fighting sequences – go all out and give the viewers what they’re looking for, or don’t build it up as much (a problem will face if it doesn’t deliver on the monster it’s been promising).
All in all, War doesn’t even come close to living up to it’s name, and should have stuck with it’s original name: Rogue. It hypes the viewer for more one-on-one brutal showdowns between Statham and Li amongst non-stop violence, and instead delivers with mostly ridiculous mayhem and very few – and rather disappointing at that – encounters between it’s two stars.
If you’re looking for some good Statham vs. Li action, and you like a bit of the sci-fi twist, check out The One instead. If you’re looking for a lighter Li combined with more impressive fight scenes, watch his team-up with Aaliyah – in one of her best performances before her career was tragically cut short – in . If you like a little drama with your action, check out instead.
As for this film, don’t bother – this War is a waste of time.