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VINE VOICEon November 5, 2007
WAR (aka. ROGUE ASSASSIN, Asian title) is the 2nd movie that puts together Jason Statham and Jet Li. Remember, "The One"? I don't blame you; I barely recall the film myself. This film has a very interesting cast; two popular action stars set to collide in the big screen. With fight choreography by Corey Yuen, it looks very promising. Did it deliver on its expectations? (I've been reviewing too many Korean films of late so I thought I'd review one that I saw in theaters months ago, my draft has just been sitting in my computer)

An F.B.I. agent named Jack Crawford (Jason Statham) is obsessed in finding his partner's killer and bringing the assassin called "Rogue" (Jet Li) to justice. Rogue is a ruthless killer, apparently if the Yakuza wants someone taken care of; they send this cold and accurate assassin. After disappearing from sight for a few years, Rogue resurfaces in the San Francisco Bay Area. Apparently, he has switched sides, and is now working for the Chinese Triad headed by Chang (John Lone). Jack is so fixated in nabbing Rogue that his very presence fills him with rage. However, Rogue takes Jack's presence as very entertaining and quite amusing. It seems that Rogue has a hidden agenda...

Music video director Philip Atwell is at the helm with "War"; his experience filming music videos certainly shows in this outing. The style is pretty routine and nothing is spectacular. One thing I can say, is that most of the sequences weren't shot in San Francisco; (I live in San Francisco so I can tell) wherever it WAS filmed it was so convenient. Yakuza territory is made of Sushi bars and Triad territory is mostly, well, Chinese food places. The Asian gangsters have the usual stereotype inherent in other action films. I did find the fetish in Asian clubs quite amusing.

The last time I saw Jet Li as the antagonist was in Lethal Weapon 4; Li upstages Statham in terms of dynamic charisma, he portrays Rogue as a silent but intense presence. Statham's character seemed a bit too clichéd, and suffers too much from the same old "cop-on-the-edge" gimmick. Li plays a good anti-hero as Rogue, with his classic manipulations to set the Triad against Yakuza. The classic manipulations kind of reminded me of older films, I couldn't put my finger on it until my friend mentioned Yojimbo and Shogun Assassin. The Yakuza crime lord is played by Ryu Ishibashi (Cure) with his daughter played by hottie Devon Aoki (D.O.A.). It was obvious that Aoki is in the film for eye-candy and not much else.

Not to say that the screenplay lacked inspiration. The interesting plot twists seemed poised to turn the film into something quite good. The first twist showed some promise although it may require a large suspension of disbelief; we are expected to believe that everything is just so well executed and calculated. I almost don't want to mention the 2nd twist, because they should have stopped with the first one. The second twist made the movie seemed a bit overcooked; it seemed too forced. It called too much attention to itself to astonish without any credibility. I cannot disclose anymore information because I may end up spoiling the film a little. I really felt like the film would have ended better. (I'm curious to see if the dvd will have an alternate ending, It certainly needs one) The plot devices/twists seemed more fit in a police morality drama, but in a standard action film, the pacing seemed to hamper the film a little.

Now did the film at least actually deliver on the fight sequences? Well, there are ninjas and a decent routine swordfight. We even see Kane Kosuji in action (for a few seconds anyway). The film is pretty solid as a commercial/mainstream action movie. There is a lot of marketing devices; gang conflicts with a few effective twists and turns, a hint of nudity, some T & A, cardboard cutout characters, blood with kinetic action sequences. The film isn't so bad as long as one remembers its target audience; testosterone-laden males (like me). Action director Corey Yuen made better action scenes before, but for action junkies, it may still prove diverting.

WAR is a MIXED bag, it doesn't offer anything we haven't seen before. It has the potential to become a truly fresh and entertaining action film, but it stumbles in the standard plot devices and the routine conflicts. The action sequences are decent, but somewhat lacking in intensity and emotion. Emotion plays an important part an excellent fight scene; the direction just didn't make the effort to show such emotional impact.

There is just something missing in "War" that it wasn't as effective as I wanted it to be. I've seen a lot of great action sequences, and the ones in "War" are definitely not in the upper tier. If you're a Jet Li fan, you've definitely seen him in MUCH better fight sequences such as in my personal favorite; "Kiss of the Dragon" (modern action) or in his past Hong Kong films. To its credit, (at the very least) the fight scenes are better than the ones in "Cradle to the Grave" but only by a hair.
Maybe I've just seen too many Asian action films.
Timidly Recommended for action fanatics and a good rental for everybody else. [3 ½ stars]
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 5, 2007
What the hell happened? This movie did not at all live up to expectations. I love both these action stars, Jason Statham and Jet Li, and what they bring to the table. I believed it was a can't miss premise: that of Statham and Li facing off against each other. Was I ever wrong!

Here's the plot: The slaughter of his partner and his partner's family causes federal agent John Crawford (Jason Statham) to go on a personal vendetta against a legendary assassin named Rogue. After three years, he finally gets a whiff of a lead. But, as Crawford hunts him down, Rogue (Jet Li) follows his own mysterious agenda. Having snaked his way into the Triad's inner circle, Rogue schemes and manipulates the Triad into engaging in warfare with the Yakuza. All the while, he is relentlessly hounded by Crawford and his task force.

Jason Statham brings his virility and patented angry intensity onto the screen. Jet Li, however, sleepwalks and delivers his lines without any type of conviction. Only in the action sequences does Jet spruce up, and, even then, we don't get to see him much in full out action. In an interview, Jet claimed that WAR isn't a martial arts film and I guess he's got this picture pegged perfectly. Oh, there's a ton of shooting with guns. But with namebrands like Jet Li and Jason Statham, with the latter having rapidly garnered a film rep as a martial artist (based on The Transporter series), I expected serious wushu mayhem. But Jet Li only gets to really cut loose wushu-style in one sequence when he goes up against ninja-clad Yakuza. Statham sees even less action, although he does have a pulse-pounding tussle in a teahouse. But, other than that, you'd never know Jason was well versed in the martial arts.

I was hugely anticipating Statham pitting his brawn and ferociousness against Li's agileness and speed. But, basically, the momumental throwdown between them never happens. They do get it on at the warehouse climax, but it comes off as more an amateurish and unfulfilling clash which emphasized wrestling, punching, and the two throwing each other thru things. Definitely not what I was hankering for. These guys both have built-in fan bases, and, in my opinion, the fans were just let down. I am sorely vexed.

Then, on top of that disappointment, you throw in the plodding nature of the story. Rogue persists in his machinations to set the two crime cartels against each other, forcing the audience to endure all the resulting dreary plot convolutions. Given, these aren't really dead spots in the film as much as the camera tending to hone in on sordid characters and situations I didn't give a crap about. But, even when things were happening, the film felt like it dragged. There are times when Statham's storyline is relegated to the background. Frankly, more focus should've been given to Crawford's pursuit of Rogue, especially since Statham, to me, is the more charismatic actor here. We're introduced to one promising character - the Yakuza head's capable and ambitious daughter - but nothing really comes of her story arc. However, I did appreciate the present she received.

There's one positive here in that a very nice twist is introduced late in the film, and it did surprise me. But, in the long run, too many things turned me off. When Jet Li and Jason Statham finally meet each other face to face, I expected fireworks. Not necessarily a fight, but...something, I dunno. But that scene left me cold. Sad to say, but these two lack chemistry together. The ending, when it came - and an unsatisfying and abrupt ending it was - couldn't have come any sooner. Two and a half stars of bitterness for this one.
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on May 19, 2008
**** 1/2

for an action fan, the expectations are going to be very high considering the actors. Jet Lee and Jason Statham are arguably the best action stars around these days.

while the action doesnt quite deliver as heavily as i hoped, the movie was fantastic. essentially its a cat and mouse story, Statham plays the vengeful federal agent, hellbent on tracking down his criminal. Jet Lee plays an international hitman, who killed Statham's partner. its going to be nearly impossible to find because he's always getting reconstructive surgery and changing his identity. now, four years later, he may just be back on the trail, thanks to a rare bullet, the exact same style used to kill his partner.

its a much darker story with little or no of the comedy found in a lot of Statham's roles, but its a strong, dark, well written action-drama that pushes all the right buttons. the acting was good all around, just as solid as you'd expect from the leads, all the minor characters play their roles believably.

the fight scenes didnt quite stack up to my expectations, but anyone older than five should realize, when the movies done, there was a lot more going on than a straight "shoot em up" action movie. not that it would've been a bad thing. i would give Crank that generalization, and its my favorite of Statham's films.

in the end, if you like action with a story, jet lee, or jason statham, at leased give it a rental.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon May 1, 2010
With conflicts on several fronts, director Philip G. Atwell's, War (2007), is a violent, relentless, crime drama, with a bold and stimulating storyline, that is hard to anticipate. Mostly set in San Francisco, the principal players are the FBI, a California based organized crime group run by Li Chang (John Lone), a group of Yakuza run from Japan by Shiro Yanagawa (Ryo Ishibashi), and a mysterious killer known only as `Rogue'.

FBI agents Crawford (Jason Statham) and Tom Lone (Terry Chen), encounter Rogue on the San Francisco waterfront. Crawford is shot, but Lone returns fire, and the shooter they believe is Rogue is hit, and falls into the ocean. Rogue is known for using bullets with titanium shells, and Crawford finds one at the scene. Tom Lone and his wife and daughter, later become the target of a vicious hit. Lone's house goes up in flames, and three burned bodies are found in the remains. Sifting through the debris, Crawford finds another titanium shell.

Skipping forward three years, a group of Yanagawa's Yakuza is attacked at club. The killer approaches a dying gangster, and shoots him in the head, expending a shell. When, Crawford arrives on the scene, he finds another titanium shell. The man known as Rogue has apparently returned.

Once employed by Yanagawa as a hit man, the man that Crawford believes is Rogue (Jet Li), now goes by the name of Victor Shaw, and has made his services available to triad boss Li Chang. With Rogue's assistance, a valuable cargo is stolen from Yanagawa, and more of his men are killed. A gang war between the Yakuza and the triads is about to erupt, and the FBI is in the middle, trying to deal with both of them. Rogue says that he has no master, and that seems to be the case, as he fans the flames, playing each side against the other. Things come to a boil, after a massive shootout in a tea house (masterfully directed by Corey Yuen), as Yanagawa flies in from Japan to oversee matters.

War is a stylish, well-written and executed affair, that dazzles and thrills, while building up to an inventive twist. Jet Li is a charismatic performer, that lets his actions do most of the talking, as he showcases his fighting and shooting skills. Jason Statham is very solid in a serious role, again demonstrating that he is capable of much more that just cartoonish action flicks. It is rather disappointing that third billed Devon Aoki, who plays Yanagawa's daughter, does not do any real fighting, in what is a actually a supporting role. On the other hand, Terry Chen makes an enormously impactful contribution, in a very brief appearance. The remainder of the cast, do nothing but add to the momentum and effectiveness, of what is a very entertaining ride.

The DVD is well stocked with bonus material, including two commentary tracks, and a number of cool extras, including a compilation called The Action of War, that in total, provide a fairly comprehensive look at the creative process involved in this very fine production.
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on January 3, 2008
This review is from: War (Widescreen Edition)

Everybody seems to be very disappointed in this movie given the outstanding martial arts capabilities of the two leading actors. Perhaps that's why this movie fails to impress viewers as EVERYBODY expected a martial arts showdown. I actually thought the movie was pretty good and the surprise twist at the end definitely caught me by surprise as I'm sure so did many others. Jet Li's performance in this movie is a typical "Jet Li" type of role as a somewhat stiff, no-emotion, few spoken words antagonist with quick but short killing skills either by hand or a quick gun shot. I think the role of Rouge suits him. The plot of Jet Li's character Rouge bouncing back and fourth between the Chinese Triad gang and the Japanese Yakuza gang in order to insight violence between them reminded me of Clint Eastwood's classic role in "A Fistful of Dollars".

Given Jason Statham's recent performances in Transporter 1 and 2 showcasing his fantastic martial arts skills, this wasn't exactly the type of role everybody was expecting of Jason Statham. In fact I think "War" could have replaced Statham with a different lead actor of much less capable fighting skills such as Colin Farrel, Christian Bale or a Tom Cruise type of actor since Jason Statham's character of Crawford struck me as more of an angry detective type that is more harassing with a gun and his angry words instead of his hands. Makes you wonder how different the anticipated reaction would have been if Jason Statham was NOT in this film? If you can watch and enjoy this movie for what it is and stop expecting the martial arts showdown everybody was waiting for, this movie is worth watching.
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on April 7, 2009
Let's get the important part out of the way right off the bat: the car Li is driving is a Dutch import called the SPYKER and the base price on it is a whopping $260,000. Yes, folks, I said "base price". If you want all the bells and whistles it will run you a cool $300,000.

Now on to the movie....

Was very hesitant about buying this one. Not because of Statham, but because of Li. I'd gotten the Chan/Li movie and was very disappointed in the collaboration. Now we have the action heroes of Statham and Li...

Good combination. The storyline holds up, the action is great, the cars are to die for, and the confusion about what the heck is going on is constant. Basic plot: two good guys, one is killed by the psycho ROGUE. The good guy left (Statham) is all-consumed with the need to hunt him down, even tho it costs him his marriage and normal life. Meanwhile, bad guy Rogue (Li) is playing Chinese Mafia warlords against one another to the point where no one knows why or where he is headed in this. When the light finally dawns (close to the end) it will be a shocker. For those who claim they guessed somewhere in the middle, don't believe it.

I liked it. I liked the supporting cast, which was very good. (Kudos to the casting director) This little gem will keep your attention for the full run of the movie. Buy, rent, borrow, whatever

By the way, Stathams' car was pretty darn awesome, too!
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on March 23, 2008
Jason Statham stars as a cop with grief after loosing his partner in a shootout. The man responsible is an assassin named rogue, Statham's character takes it personal and is on the run after him. Simple premise but gets a bit confusing thru the course of the film
When I first saw the trailer for this movie I thought this was goanna be the next big action movie in a long time. Really you have Jet Li on one side who is an extraordinary martial artist and on the other you have also another great action hero Jason Statham what can go wrong? Well for starters the problem here is the pace of the story, it's very slow and it feels too familiar. For the first hour there really isn't any action, I was constantly trying to stay wake. The movie isn't completely bad, it's actually recovers its pace at the end, around the last half hour it becomes one gruesome action movie. From a cool car chase scene, to a shootout at a bar, and the last fight scene involving katanas. But when it comes to the fight scenes that you want to see between Statham and Li they are not what you're expecting. The movie does redeem itself big time with its final twist which will surely have you thinking during the credits. But other than that it seems and feels as if the writers didn't take much time with it. Rent it

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on December 2, 2009
I'm a huge fan of action movies. I have yet to see a movie with Jet Li or Jason Statham that I didn't like. This was a "keep you on the seat of your pants" movie that kept me entertained until it was over. I can't believe how much of a difference Blu-ray can make!
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on January 1, 2010
"War" is a serious, sophisticated, powerful action-thriller with a decent plot and good performances, especially by Jet Li. There is great action and fighting in this movie, there is one fight scene where it becomes so furious, even in the beginning, that it's impossible to follow what is happening to whom whereby the story gets jumbled and collapses partially - becoming fighting for fighting sake whereas a great director would have been able to save the plot outline even in this complicated and physically well-executed stretch of the movie. Jason Statham's seems to have martial arts skills above his job classification which make it sometimes a bit incredible, but still enjoyable. By the time the twist comes along, it's actually quite a nice one, but not executed with the greatest of credibility. This is overall a good, compelling, and rather complicatedly sublime movie. This movie is rich with action.
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VINE VOICEon February 1, 2008

Many movies are so well-made that any incredulities are swept away by one's "willing suspension of disbelief." Not so with "War." There are too many black holes that suck in belief in this mess of a movie. After it was over, the thought was, Why was it made? To validate revenge? To rack up murder counts? To show the stupidity of rival factions and obsession with violence? To show that madmen can produce mad progeny? To show the devastating effects of corruption?

Whatever, both Jet Li and Jason Statham are wasted in this atmospheric film devoted to violence and the madness of men and one cold babe (think another b word). Jet Li is required to wield all manner of guns (none of this is a spoiler as the opening scene shows such). What is it with all these martial arts movies that EVERYONE is as good as the next guy? Is this reality? Are there that many people who have studied long enough to fight anyone, everyone? Correction: This is not a martial arts movie, it is a bloodbath!

Two rival factions, one Chinese, one Japanese, allow the same man in their organizations to defeat the other. Each side is clueless, yet he is there on the scene every time. Who is this Rogue? An urban legend? A CIA operative? An FBI man? A rogue from what?

Are there really FBI men like Jason Statham, whose character seems to have no one as his manager? Is such a one really free to operate the way he does in this movie? Don't say, It's only a movie. Movies should have a seeming of realism, not vigilantism by government.

And the ending, the ending. Both men spoke their final lines in a mumble, leaving this viewer partially clueless as to the meaning of the ending.

If the point of this movie references any of the questions asked at the beginning of this review, then how sad. How wasted. What does it say for America that we condone this sort of violence. Have we reached a point where violence is the answer to crime? Jason Statham and Jet Li were wasted in this production. There should be a rematch in a better vehicle for the talents of these two actors. Justice, if any is left, demands it.

While this movie does not live up to expectations (see other reviews as well), it does have its merits. This addition is for balance. "War" is a wonderfully atmospheric film, one of the best. Shot in darkened places to connote dark doings, it never flinches in maintaining the darkness of men's souls. Even when mob leaders, Chinese or Japanese, demonstrate their heartless natures, there will be an immediate family scene that shows these men, particularly the Japanese leader, as wonderfully loving and caring family men. Perhaps the implication is facade. However, once a man acts in certain ways over and over, a modus operandi is established, making the next heinous act easier and so on.

This was the first film I have seen of Jason Statham and would like more. From other reviews I learned he is quite the action hero. I have a soft spot in my heart for Jet Li because of his character in "Unleashed," a movie I love and gave five stars. I still contend that a rematch between these two in a action film more characteristic of them, perhaps pairing them together rather than against each other is a great idea. I would also like to see the Chinese daughter in another film as she has a commanding presence. Ditto for Jason's two FBI partners.
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