War This should have been the greatest movie ever made.
Okay, that’s an exaggeration (when have I ever done that?,) but it really should have been at least 75% more fun.
With a set-up this preposterous (Yakuza! Ninjas! Triads! FBI! Back Alley Plastic Surgey!), one of the best screen fighters of all time and one solid screen fighting brit, it should have played like the best of 1980s Hong Kong action- a nonsensical plot buoyed by end to end violence (of the gun and martial arts varieties), stunts and car chases (preferably of the Rémy Julienne style.)
Instead, it was a little bit of the previous and way too much culturally awkward “thriller,” plot and talking. While I’m obviously not against the idea of time in action films spent on “non-action”, with the elements at play in this film, any time spent not breaking glass or bones or blowing things up is time wasted. The plot* is abysmal and the acting mediocre (although Statham and Li do deliver reasonable approximations of Statham and Li,) so the best way for this film to save itself would be by going into 100% action-fest mode. Sadly they held back on the action and for that, they get this tepid review.
I can really only recommend this for the Jet Li completists** out there and if you do watch it, check out something good from Hong Kong to balance out the mediocrity of this one. For my part I’m going to re-watch Fist of Legend. That ought to clear up any lingering War-related stink.
*with the exception of the “a-ha” moment at the end which was actually kind of cool. the problem is you had to slog through the first 80+ minutes to get to it, so once it happens you’re already dead the characters and just hoping for one final action set piece to save the film.
**What? Like you haven’t seen every film Jet Li has ever appeared in?