Eric D. Snider

War

Movie Review

War

by Eric D. Snider

Grade: D+

Released: August 24, 2007

 

Directed by:

Cast:

The fatal flaw of "War," the lazily titled, frenetically produced Asian gangland thriller starring Jason Statham and Jet Li, is that I don't give two craps about anyone in it.

Statham plays a San Francisco FBI agent named Jack Crawford who wants to find the assassin who killed his partner three years ago. Li plays Rogue, the aforementioned assassin who was once trained by the CIA before going, um, rogue, changing his face with plastic surgery (he does it every six months to keep the Feds off his trail), and becoming a freelance killer.

Rogue has generally worked for the Japanese Yakuza, but now he has apparently switched over to the Chinese Triad. This change in allegiances from one Asian organized-crime syndicate to another means a great deal to everyone in the movie, primarily because it escalates the war between the two groups. It would appear that Rogue is intentionally pitting them against each other, and this affects how the FBI does its job in bringing them down.

Me? I sincerely could not possibly care less who wins in the battle between the Yakuza and the Triad. Honestly. Sometimes people are exaggerating when they say they "couldn't care less," because in truth they DO care at least a tiny, tiny bit, and so they therefore COULD care less. But I am not exaggerating. I genuinely have no interest whatsoever in this conflict.

Watching the film, I was struck by how much the director, Philip G. Atwell (who trained in music videos, and it shows), was taking it for granted that I WOULD care. He focuses long stretches of his movie not on Crawford's pursuit of Rogue, which is ostensibly the story's main point, but on Rogue's interactions with the two rival gangs and their battles with each other. Yet as he does this, Atwell fails to give us any reason to care. None of the villains are memorable; most do not fit descriptions any more detailed than "Asian man in a dark suit." Rogue barely talks and has a passive expression on his face most of the time. Crawford is surly and moody in a generic, unpleasant way.

Seriously: a damn. I do not give it.

The Japanese crime boss has a daughter, Kira (Devon Aoki), who handles his affairs in San Francisco. It is implied that she is some kind of major butt-kicker with martial arts skills. But do we ever get to see her fight? Nope. In fact, nearly all of the fighting -- let's face it, the main reason you watch a Jason Statham/Jet Li movie -- is not hand-to-hand but simply people shooting at each other.

Things perk up a bit in the last act, when we finally get a real fight involving swords that gets bloody and hacky. Most movie sword fights are fairly clean. In this one, the participants go at it like that knight in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," continuing to grapple even after taking major hits.

There's also some intrigue in the final minutes when the screenplay (by first-timers Lee Anthony Smith and Gregory J. Bradley) introduces some goofy plot twists and crazy reversals. I can't say I really became "interested" at this point, but I did start paying more attention. At last the movie had provoked a reaction. That reaction was "Hey, that's ridiculous!," but at least I was finally involved.

Grade: D+

Rated R, a lot of harsh profanity, a lot of violence including some very bloody fights, and some strip-club nudity

1 hr., 43 min.

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This item has 16 comments

  1. Mark says:

    Thank you for reviewing this. From the commercials, I had absolutely no idea what this was about, except "bang, pow, zam! It's intense!!" It's a good rule of thumb that when the commercials can't give you any idea what a movie is about, it's probably not worth wasting your time and money on.

  2. scott says:

    if you dont care about the people in it... dont review it... if you dont care about it why should people care what your review is like?

  3. Turkey says:

    Because I want to know if a film is a waste of my time and money or not. And that's why he reviews them--for the little people like me who would rather not subject themselves to this crap when I could be home doing dishes instead.

  4. Nominull says:

    All I have to do to keep my movie from getting bad reviews is to make sure nobody cares enough about the characters to review it in the first place! I have a filmmaking Strategy.

  5. Loc Pham says:

    Haha...I really liked your honesty...especially the expression "Seriously...a damn. I don't give it." Hahahaha...hilarious! Still gonna watch this movie but going to wait for it...to come out ondvd or something and rent for a dollar or something...

  6. Fox Mulder says:

    to come out ondvd or something (Youtube)...and rent for a dollar(Free) or something

  7. Clapping Hands says:

    Once again, you hit on the nail. I was so dissappointed. This movie was a complete letdown.

  8. nully says:

    Wow you talk alot of crap for someone who doesn't care. Your reviews are flawed. This coming from a guy who gave bourne ultimatum a B+. Bourne ultimatum is crap compared to this movie. I mean the plot for this movie wasn't perfect, but the action was awesome. Why Bourne ultimatum was crap? It was 98% special effects and camera action was annoyingly aggressive to take it serious. Matt damon didn't have personality or ability to act either!

    Your pretty much an idiot to give this movie a D+. The action is better than any action movie this year , from the car chase, motorcycle chases, martial arts and gun shooting scenes, were top notch. This is easily better than Transporter, war is stathams best movie. Jet li was awesome too.

    If you think you're so much of an expert, lets see you become a director of this movie and see if anyone would watch your movie. Direct any movie for that matter. Critics think they're experts now. But all they are r idiots. Truth hurts doesn't it?

  9. John Doe says:

    nully's comment is the reason I love reading comments. He gets just about every logical fallacy an angry letter can have. A movie is only good if it has tons of action. Ignore plot or character development, ACTION will win the day! And if it's so bad, you can do better. If this logic holds, then nully has no right to complain since he is not a movie critic.

    However, I hope people like nully keep posting. They make me laugh, even though they also make me fear for the youth of America.

  10. Dave the Slave says:

    Wow, I bet Eric will serisouly ponder the choices he's made in his life to become a movie crtitic. Nully has spoken. What are movie critics? "they are r idiots."

    :-D

  11. Cody Young says:

    Snyder, more often than not your tastes and critiques paraellel my own reflections on a movie - where we differ, its because you are sometimes more kind than I. You really are the only critic out there whose opinion I regard.

    Nuts to Nully, keep up the good work.

  12. Greg MacLennan says:

    GAwD EriC!

    U R sooooo DUM! I CNT beLive you dIdn'T

  13. Ed meadows says:

    Nully and Scott get a D-

  14. Kaydria says:

    I literally started cracking up when I read "Truth hurts doesn't it?" in Nully's comment. Like he was so sure that he had made such cutting revelations that you were curled up in your computer chair, sobbing like a little girl.

  15. John says:

    Totally agreed. This movie sucks. I came in expecting only hot women, a tight chase scene, and lots of jet li martial arts vs jason stratham badassness and ended up getting not hot women, ONE car stunt that SUCKED and an AWFUL jet vs jason action scene at the end. Sure, at a small budget crazyass special effects cant be liberally applied but thats no reason to under-utilize jet li's a-list martial arts skills. The directer never gave you a strong reason to care so much that Jasons asian counterpart died in the beginning, his character was never fully realized therefore the audience was never given sufficient reason to care for that character. The swords in the swordplay scene looked cheap. And whats with this politically correct bull[crap] of Jason stratham smoking a TOOTHPICK?! Oral fixation give me a break. Jason should be an immortal character not open to any suggestions from other stupid non-immortal characters. [Swear word].

  16. Bexdfw says:

    Nully obviously hasn't seen Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, or Snatch.

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