Dir: Phillip G. Atwell
Star: Jason Statham, Jet Li, John Lone, Ryo Ishibashi

After his partner falls victim, along with his family, to an Oriental hitman called Rogue, FBI agent John Crawford (Statham) devotes his life to the pursuit of Rogue, to the detriment of his own marriage and life. Three years later, the assassin (Li) resurfaces, apparently working for the local Triad, under their leader Chang(Lone). Rogue's mission is to destroy the rival Yakuza gang, whose boss Shiro (Ishibashi) leads them from his base in Japan, and recover a pair of golden horses stolen from China decades previously. However, as Crawford follows his prey, he begins to find out that all is not quite what it appears to be, with Rogue an equal-opportunity killer, whose motives may not be what they seem.

I was hoping this would be really rotten, so I could start my review by going: "War - huh, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!" Instead, it's pretty much what you'd expect from a movie starring Statham and Li, especially if you saw their previous work together, The One. I couldn't help expecting to see Luc Besson's name in the opening credits on this: the genre and style has his fingerprints on it, with Corey Yuen handling the action choreography. It's somewhat spotty: if the actual martial-arts are fine, with both leads having solid pedigrees there, the rest of the stuff, in gun-fights and chases, aren't up to much. There is one genuine surprise pulled by the script, which we really didn't see coming and you get the feeling there was some thought put into the story - or, at least, more than usual for this kind of thing [and I'm looking at you, Crank]. Overall, while that isn't enough to elevate this above a time-passer, as such, it's far from an unpleasant way to pass said time.

[May 2009]

The art of war
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