Saturday, August 25, 2007

WAR starring Jet Li and Jason Statham

Logline: An FBI Agent seeks vengeance on a mysterious assassin known as "Rogue" who murdered his partner.

Basically, War is nothing more than an extended 100 minute visual assault, without the Kung Fu/Wire work mastery we know Jet Li is famous for (and can ACTUALLY DO without the aid of wires).

The plot is very paper thin: Special Agent Jack Crawford (an oddly attractive yet aging gracefully Jaston Statham, the British Vin Diesel, only smarter with his film choices, a little more talented and is AWARE of what his fans want. Sorry Vin, we're still waiting for greatness--that you can ACTUALLY prove and not boast about) becomes obsessed with "Rogue", a mythical assassin that kills his partner and his family because of revenge.

Crawford goes on a three year mission to find Rogue and kill him for what he did to his partner Crawford looses his marriage, his family (Andrea Roth, fantastic and amazing on F/X's Rescue Me has NOTHING to do here..NOTHING!), and, in theory, his soul.

The movie focuses on his journey to find "Rogue" and all of the double-crossing and shenanigans that go on when "Rogue" (played gamely and surprisingly, with a touch of understatement by Jet Li) starts taking out members of the Yakuzas (Shiro Clan, led by rising star Kira-san (Devon Aoki), daughter of Shiro (Ryo Ishibashi).

You would think that a film like this would be RIPE with the kinds of shrewd and complex plotting, action theatrics, and turns and twists ala John Woo's Face/Off, or any film by any of the current, past, and even future Asian film directors (Tsui Hark, Kar Wai Wong, Taashi Miike {exploitative or not, he turns it OUT with the theatrics}, Chan-wook Park {Oldboy}, etc.). And, the film DOES have that potential.

But, it just falls apart quickly, because the film wasn't written well at all. Why are we supposed to care about Crawford? He willingly gave up his life and home to avenge his partner's murder? Okay, fine. But, Jack Crawford was written so one-dimensionally that it was hard to care.

And, the last minute twist at the end? SHAAADE. You mean to tell me with all of the mediocre action set pieces, the LACK of bullets and ku fung (the film should have had nonstop didn't), this is how you end it? Wow, thanks for insulting the audience's intelligence, Lion's Gate. THANKS.

Both Li and Statham are credible action stars that are credible ACTORS who can handle a well written and paced complex action/drama. War was NOT that film.

I think this pairing, if given a well written script, could work in future films. It just didn't work in this one.

Grade: Performances: C-/Action: C-/Writing: NE/Audiences being duped into making this one of the top films of the weekend(WATCH): NE Overall Grade: C-/NE

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