Director: Philip G. Atwell
There's a changing of the guard underway in the genre of action films. Had "War" been made 10 years ago, it might have starred Dolph Lundgren and Jackie Chan. Instead, we have British hardhead Jason Statham facing off against Jet Li.
The big difference between the old and new action heroes is substance. Tough men used to do their own stunts and were disciplined in at least one martial art. In "War" there's almost no real stunt work. The action relies entirely on frenetic camera work, leaving Statham and Li with little to do but scowl at each other.
The storyline is so cliche it hurts. Statham is Jack Crawford, an FBI agent seeking to avenge the murder of his partner. His target is a rogue assassin, creatively named Rogue, a hitman feared in the Asian mafia world for his tendency to turn on his employers.
Statham is a stock-standard jaded cop. He sleeps on his couch surrounded by pizza boxes and forgets his son's basketball games. He administers his own justice and writes his own warrants. He drives a beefed-up Mustang.
Three years after the death of his partner, Crawford learns that Rogue has returned and is mixed up in a feud between the Japanese Yakuza and Chinese triads.
The two face off as the Asian gangs massacre each other. There are plenty of dockside shoot-ups, Japanese restaurant sword fights and car chases.
Statham is an impotent leading man, and Li does little but walk through his part. The action scenes are shot and edited so rapidly that it's impossible to see what's happening or who is shooting whom. Director Philip G. Atwell comes from a rap music video background, and seems to have learned little during his time filming clips for 50 Cent and Eminem.
The only slightly redeeming feature of the movie is a plot twist at the end, but even that doesn't justify the ticket price. Most TV cop shows are better scripted and shot than this dud.
To make "War" more enjoyable, try playing a game of Cop Movie Buzzword Bingo.
"The FBI is taking over this case now." (Crawford). "On whose authority?" (Angry and incompetent local police chief).
"Your quest cost us our marriage, don't let it take your son." (Concerned ex-wife).
"Mr Shiro sends his regards." (Henchman with a machine gun).
Don't waste your time. Rent an old action flick instead. At least they had a little more substance.
Now showing in Estonia.
Opens in Latvia Aug. 31 and in Lithuania Sept. 7.