(Jet Li, Jason Statham, et al / DVD / R / (2007) 2008 / LGF)
Overview: After his partner Tom Wynne and family are killed apparently by the infamous and elusive assassin Rogue, FBI agent Jack Crawford becomes obsessed with revenge as his world unravels into a vortex of guilt and betrayal. Rogue eventually resurfaces to settle a score of his own, setting off a bloody crime war between Asian mob rivals Chang of the Triad's and Yakuza boss Shiro. When Jack and Rogue finally come face to face, the ultimate truth of their pasts will be revealed.
DVD Verdict: 'War' sets up the viewer with promises (Jason Statham, Jet Li in his first movie as a straight actor i.e. post-martial arts), but for the most part those promises are not delivered. What is put on the screen for what seems like an endless evening is more killing with guns, knives, fire, explosions, and every other kind of death device imaginable delivered by minimal story and substandard acting. It is loud, gory, and boring - until the final few minutes when the story actually gains a plot.
Lee Anthony Smith and Gregory J. Bradley came up with a minimal tale taking place in San Francisco, a rivalry between a Chinese gang and a Japanese gang, peppered by revenge, contraband goods, and a hefty dose of non-balletic fighting. Jason Statham sleepwalks his way through his role as FBI agent Jack Crawford with an attitude and a grudge, assisted by his partner Special Agent Wick (given a nice turn by Mathew St. Patrick of 'Six Feet Under') and Benny (the always fine character actor Luis Guzmán, even here!).
The head of the wealthy Chang gang (John Lone of 'The Last Emperor') is obtaining a prize antiquity from Japan's Shiro Yanagawa (Ryo Ishibashi) and gang and Rogue (Jet Li) is the agent. After what seems like hours of car chases, motorcycle chases, constant killing, beheadings, sleazy tearoom scenes, etc the identity of the Rogue (apparently much changed by multiple plastic surgeons who likewise loose their lives...) is made clear - a fact that provides some answers to Agent Jack's grumpy personality.
This is a film without a core and one that is easy to understand its box office failure. And unless the viewer is in need of a 103 minutes of steady violence, this film is a must miss - even for fans of Statham and Li. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
"The Action Of War" - 9 Behind-The-Scenes Vignettes
Audio commentary with director Philip G. Atwell
Audio commentary with writers Lee Anthony Smith and Gregory J. Bradley
"Scoring War" - Featurette
Audio Trivia Track