Theatrical Review: War

FBI Agent John Crawford lost his partner in a revenge killing over an FBI investigation of Yakuza activity in San Francisco. The killing was carried out by am outside source, known only as Rogue. Three years later, Rogue has resurfaced as a war between the Yakuza and the Triads escalates in San Francisco and now John Crawford is out for total revenge.

And that’s the basic premise of the new action movie War featuring two of today’s biggest action stars, Jason Statham and Jet Li. To me this movie sort of plays out like Michael Mann’s Heat but for the short-attention spanned. That’s not a knock on the film in anyway, but there are similarities to Mann’s film, although this one doesn’t quite approach it in the same epic terms. This one plays as more a “B” film, but with some nice set pieces and a flip near the end of the film, that I can say at least I didn’t see coming.

I enjoyed this, but I’ll also tell you it’s hardly the best thing that I’ve seen this year. There’s a lot more that one could ask of this, though it does, at least to me, seem to cross all it’s “t’s” and dot all it’s “i’s.” Director Philip Atwill keeps the movie very fast-paced, but still it could’ve used a little more fleshing out, and probably a little more style and “oomph” to it’s action pieces (though some are very nice, including a final showdown in the San Francisco Yakuza headquarters).

Now I like both Statham and Li, and I can see the attraction to wanting to put them in a movie together (they’ve been in one together before, the science fiction film from Morgan and Wong called The One but that was before Statham’s star was more on the rise). But Statham isn’t hiding his British accent, though he’s distinctly playing an American FBI agent, and Li of course is Chinese, and here he’s playing Japanese- it’s a little goofy, but still having them playing accurate representations of their parts isn’t exactly what this one is about. They’re there mostly for some big-ass action more than anything else. They’re solid here though, with Statham getting a little more of the boost playing the “cop on the edge.”

Like I said above, I’ve certainly seen far better this year, but I still thought this was an entertaining diversion and a nice night out with the friends who I see movies with. Lionsgate didn’t exactly release this one for critical review, and after seeing the film, I sort of wonder why? I don’t think they had anything to be embarrassed by with this, and more than likely they probably would’ve expected reviewers to basically come in and say it’s purely for fans of the stars alone, but had little else to offer- but I guess you never really know. More than likely most will catch this on DVD than anything else, but still I certainly had a good time with it, and again where I saw it, it was shown in a digital projection room and that in itself offers up it’s own sort of fun…

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

28. August 2007 by Darren Goodhart
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