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War - Preview & US reaction

Jet Li and Jason Statham in War

Preview by Jack Foley

MARTIAL arts fans ought to be licking their lips at the prospect of seeing two of cinemas best action men going head to head in War.

Described as “a full-throttle, martial arts thriller”, the film (previously called Rogue) stars Jet Li and Jason Statham as two adversaries set on a violent collision course in the Asian mob underground.

After his partner is brutally murdered by the infamous assassin Rogue (Jet Li), FBI agent Jack Crawford (Jason Statham) vows to find the elusive killer and personally avenge his partner’s death.

But Rogue proves untraceable until three years later when he resurfaces to ignite a bloody turf war between Chinese mob leader Chang (John Lone) and Japanese Yakuza boss Shiro (Ryo Ishibashi).

Eager to capture Rogue once and for all, Crawford leads his team of crime specialists headlong into the conflict. But Crawford’s thirst for vengeance jeopardizes his professional judgment, and as the violence escalates, Crawford finally comes face to face with his enemy to discover that nothing about Rogue or his plan is quite what it seems.

War is directed by Philip G Atwell from a script by Lee Anthony Smith and Gregory J. Bradley. It opened in America over the weekend of August 24-26 and debuted at No. 5 with $10 million receipts.

Sadly, however, it failed to ignite the critics, who described it as a missed opportunity.

Variety, for instance, wrote that “the teaming of action stars Jet Li and Jason Statham may raise audience expectations for a lean, mean ass-kicking machine, but War turns out to be a flabby and formulaic programmer”>

While the Hollywood Reporter wrote: “Lacking even the galvanizing action sequences that would have compensated for suffering through its formulaic plot, this is a thoroughly forgettable exploitationer that will not enhance its stars’ resumes.”

And Reel Film Reviews opined: “War‘s relentlessly over-the-top visuals and hopelessly convoluted storyline ensure that it generally comes off as yet another needless entry within an exceedingly tired genre.”

But Reelviews liked it, stating: “This isn’t great cinema, but it adequately fills a niche. Those who like their action loud and bloody won’t be disappointed. There’s a high body count and lots of explosions and, for some, that’s what this is all about.”

And the Toronto Star wrote: “All-the-way-through good, from explosive start to bloody finish, without so much as a momentary lag in the action or the story.”

UK audiences can find out for themselves when War opens on September 28. In the meantime, why not check out b>the trailer