The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday February 8th

'War' delivers on action and more

Jason Statham and Jet Li face off to exciting effect in "War," the fast-paced action movie by rookie director Philip Atwell. A need to avenge the death of his fallen partner drives FBI agent Jack Crawford (Statham) to find the assassin known only as Rogue (Li). Navigating the politics of the rival crime families of the Chinese Triads and the Japanese Yakuza, Crawford attempts to find the brutally effective killer. This movie, like others in its genre, looks slick and moves quickly. It features plenty of explosions, chases and has a high body count. It delivers what action fans are looking for. What exceeds expectations is Atwell's ability to flesh out complexities in the plot and get real emotional investment from the audience. Other movies in the Hong Kong- meets-Hollywood action genre avoid carefully crafting a believable story, but "War" actually accomplishes this and avoids cheesiness in its emotional high points. And rather than using a contrived story line simply to set up amazing fight scenes, the majority of the action in the movie actually fits well within the film's context. But there is a downside to this. Aiming for a level of realism uncommon in the genre, fight choreographer Corey Yuen ("Romeo Must Die" and "The One") doesn't deliver the amazing martial arts that fans of Li and Statham have come to expect. Li seems especially uncharacteristic in this film. While he certainly sells his role as a fearsome adversary, he primarily uses firearms instead of the martial arts skills that made him the action star he is today. It's fair to assume that a film called "War," featuring two of the most talented martial artists in the movie industry, would feature countless exciting fights between the two, but there is only one mediocre fight scene pitting Li against Statham. The lack of combat between the two stars of the movie is an unfortunate oversight, likely to leave viewers disappointed. The plot also suffers from being too confusing to completely follow. While it doesn't leave the audience clueless, it's difficult to figure out exactly what's going on. Regardless, this plot is surprisingly devoid of the hokey one-liners and unlikely character development typical of peer films. It even features a truly unexpected plot twist at the end that almost merits applause until it is squandered by a shoddy ending, which turns out to be the movie's biggest flaw. "War" delivers on some expectations but disappoints on others. Contact the Diversions Editor at


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