Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

As we lamented with the poor Box Office showing of the film ‘Shoot ‘em Up’, the action flick is a indeed a dying breed.  Two decades ago, young men went to go see these movies almost sight unseen.  But now into the 21st century, young men are into wearing T-shirts that look like dresses, wearing their pants around their knees, inking up, piercing up, and getting bikini waxes.  Today a young man would much rather watch ‘High School Musical’ or go completely to the other end of the spectrum and watch some Torture Horror rather than watch a couple of cats run, shoot, kill, drive fast and murder indiscriminately.  This could be the reason why this current demographic is so confused and ultimately so violent.  This brings us to the new Jet Li / Jason Stratham joint ‘War’ which looks like another box office disappointment for the balls out action flick.  Look, if you guys don’t start going to see these movies Jason and Jet are going to have to start showing up in flicks in which they are required to ‘act’, and nobody really wants that now do they?  Hell, Jason and Jet don’t even want that.

Jack Crawford (Stratham) and Tom Lone (Terry Chen) are a pair of hard assed FBI agents and really good friends in the middle of one of those gang wars between Yakuza and Triads that always seem to take place on a dock.  It seems the person doing the majority of the killing is the legendary but somewhat mythical Asian super assassin known only as Rogue.  Jack encounters Rogue, is bested by the assassin and is about to be done in before his partner comes in and puts one in Rogue’s face sending him into the Pacific.  However, it would seem though that Rouge didn’t die and he is none too happy with being shot in the face.  He shows up at Tom’s cabin where Tom and his family are preparing for a barbeque with Jack and his family, but the only thing that was burning was Tom’s house and his family, sending Jack on a crazed three year obsessive downward spiral to find his friends killer and bring him to justice.

Well Rogue has resurfaced and damn if he doesn’t look a lot like Jet Li.  But today Rogue seems to be up to something fishy as he is obviously playing both sides to the middle.  Triad Boss Chang (John Lone) seems to believe that Rogue is his pawn while Yakuza chief Shiro (Ryu Ishibashi) believes he’s the one pulling Rogue’s strings.  Jack however could care less as he is blinded in his ultimate goal to kill Rogue and avenge the death of his close friend.  Oh but if it were only that simple because somebody’s not telling us something that we really need to know, and when we find out what that is… Whoa!  Hold on ‘cause it’s TWIST TIME!

Actually it’s the twist that pretty much ruins this movie.  Not twist A, because THAT twist becomes fairly obvious pretty early on in proceedings.  But Twist B is the one that causes the plot, which was fairly loose to begin with to completely unravel.  Until ‘War’ decided to get all twisty on us it was actually a halfway decent if not somewhat mindless action flick.  I certainly can’t complain about the massive amount of killings, explosions, car crashes, fist fights and beheading that take place.  Hell, this damn thing even had ninjas in it.  Ninjas people.  Jason Stratham does this type role so often and so effortlessly that I’m almost one to believe that he could kick somebody’s ass for real.  Almost.  Jet Li however is a bit wasted as he does very little martial arts in this movie and apparently cares only to know enough of the English language to carry him from paycheck to paycheck.  But in true Jet Li fashion what little he does do, he does in spectacular fashion and director Phillip G. Atwell, a former music video director, does keep everything moving music video style in a brisk rapid fire fashion. 

But unfortunately when stupid action movies try to get smart is when bad things start to happen.  I really wish I could spoil it for you, but that’s just not my style – at least in most cases - but what one likes to do when watching a stupid action movie is watch it and then go on about one’s mundane life.  What one doesn’t want to do is watch it then contemplate what one has just seen because then it reveals itself as a stupid action movie and one feels guilty for watching it, thus forcing one watch hours of BBC programming, which one would rather not do.

Actually, instead of watching the BBC I just put in my copy of ‘Crank’ and watched that three times to reset my brain back to being stupid and unthinking again, thank you very much.  Note, if you ever feel yourself getting smart, just watch ‘Crank’ and it makes everything stupid again.  Anyway, given a choice between having half a brain watching these types of movies, even crappy ones like ‘War’, or inking and piercing up my precious perfect physique, I choose crappy action flicks like ‘War’.  Everyday.

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