War 2007 Review: Jason Statham and Jet Li are very charismatic, very physical performers

CIA agent Crawford (Statham) squares off against Triad assassin “Rogue” (Li) in this wretched and unbelievably unmotivated shoot-’em-up. Sooner or later, the two will come face to face–and it can’t happen soon enough. If the story made even a modicum of sense, it would be far easier to convey what it’s about. There’s a lot of talk about loyalty, about vengeance, about honor. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? What’s worse, and even unforgivable, is that War is a crashing – and crushing – bore. The setting is San Francisco. But aside from about 60 seconds of stock footage. It’s painfully clear this sludge was propagated north of the border.

Both Jason Statham and Li are very charismatic, very physical performers – yet they have alarmingly little to do here except look tough. Even their most fervent fans might well wonder why they bothered to show up. The principal heavy is John Lone, who was far more appealingly villainous in The Shadow and even Rush Hour 2. So super-cutie Devon Aoki again displays her limited command of thespian ability in a “femme fatale” role that goes absolutely nowhere. For whatever reason, Luis Guzman also makes a brief (and hopefully well-paid) appearance. And Saul Rubinek also picks up an easy check as well.

The culprit in this department is Philip G. Atwell, making his feature directorial debut. There’s nowhere to go but up, right? Wrong. There’s something to be said for brainless fun, but there’s nothing further to be said about a brainless dud. War (Cuoc Chien Khoc Liet) is a waste of celluloid.

This late-summer release from Lionsgate is, at best, a dead-on-arrival throwaway engineered to make a quick killing at the box office. To quote the great Edwin Starr: “War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again.” However promising teaming up big-screen tough guys like Jet Li (Ly Lien Kiet) and Jason Statham may have seemed. Even by its own modest ambitions, War is a major disappointment.

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