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FBI agent Jack Crawford and his partner, Tom, come upon a crime in progress on the docks, involving the infamous and elusive assassin Rogue. During the ensuing gun battle, Jack is wounded by the killer and is as good as dead except for the last-minute bravery of Tom. Rogue is shot in the face and falls into the water.
The two friends think that's the end of it ... until Rogue shows up and murders Tom and his wife and child. The assassin disappears again, but Jack now has a major chip on his shoulder. In fact, over the next three years, his obsession with the ghost-like killer begins to overshadow everything else in his life, even his family. He will have his revenge, whatever the cost.
After plastic surgery, Rogue resurfaces with a new face. Inexplicably, he starts killing key people to spark a bloody crime war between Asian mob rivals. With each move the hit man makes, Jack and his special FBI team are just steps behind. But what is the assassin up to? Can Jack extract his pound of flesh before the whole city burns to the ground?
Tom risks his life to rescue his partner, and Jack returns the favor. Rogue promises to keep a mother and child safe. And even though he is ordered to kill them by his mob boss employer, he sees the two to safety and takes care of their needs.
Rogue kneels meditating in front of a small table that holds two candles and a bullet.
Gratuitous. And graphic. A woman strips to an almost non-existent g-string and the camera lingers as she leisurely shows herself off from top to bottom and from every angle. Another woman leans over a desk, topless, while having intercourse with a shirtless man behind her. (This already explicit scene becomes bloodily so when Rogue shoots the man in the head.)
Rogue walks through a dance club/brothel in which caged dancers wear little more than body paint. Two women kiss and stroke each other (while a man watches) in a side room. Two more recline—near-naked—on tables while patrons eat food off their bodies. Others wear brief panties.
Cops on a stakeout ogle two girls in tight-fitting outfits.
A bloodbath. The movie is called War, and its director takes full advantage of that name at every turn. People are killed or tortured in all sorts of ways, including: point-blank gunshots to the head and/or body, high-powered sniper shots to the chest, decapitation and gutting with a blade, vehicular homicide and dismemberment by explosive devices.
Brutal hand-to-hand combat (including martial arts and no-holds-barred cage fighting) results in broken bones, blood letting and death.
In one scene, for example, Rogue goads a street gang into a motorbike chase that results in several being thrown headfirst to the street at high speeds. The rest are led to a rival gang's turf. Men are clubbed off their bikes and a battle breaks out with Samurai swords and pistols. In the midst of the bloody slashing and shooting, Rogue corners a man, beats him senseless, breaks his leg, shoves a sword sheath down his throat and then impales him with the drawn sword.
Crude or Profane Language
Over 50 f- and s-words are spit out. Handfuls of other profanities include "a--," "h--," "d--n," "b--tard" and "b--ch." Jesus' name is blasphemed three or four times; God's name is twice merged with "d--n." There are several vulgar references to male and female genitalia.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Men waiting on the street drink from bottles of alcohol. A mob boss drinks from a glass. Jack downs a beer. There's booze at bars and the strip club. Jack, a mob boss and others smoke.
Other Negative Elements
A policeman uses impolite slang while referring to the Japanese. Several shirtless, tattoo-covered men gamble in a side room. Jack and Tom joke about oral fixations. Jack's wife divorces him because of his obsessive behavior.
Before you finish reading this review, stop and think about your favorite action film of all time. Got one in mind? Not ready yet? I'll wait. ...
OK. What's lighting up your circuits and flashing across your brain's big screen? (And should it be?) What makes it your favorite? What kept you engrossed and what keeps its name on the tip of your tongue? I've got a number of flicks on my list—most of them black-and-white classics—and they're all oozing with great directing, edge-of-your-seat suspense, crisp (clean) dialogue, wry humor, hints of romance and an intelligent, twisting plot.
If those kinds of sparkling cinematic elements are part of your favorite(s), too, and you're craving more of the same ... then don't watch War.
War is the quintessential example of the new Hollywood take on celluloid action. All high-octane CGI flash and nothing else. (Except an unrelenting flood of bullet-riddled death, superfluous sex and nudity, and a script that feels like it's been stripped of wit, if only to make room for a few more f-words.) There's no hero to root for, either. Everyone is corrupt and even those fighting for good reasons are ultimately shown to be nothing more than brutal killers themselves. The movie did surprise me with a plot twist I didn't see coming. But nobody over the age of 10 should deem it credible—and I'm hoping nobody that young will ever have to see this immoral massacre.
I've called the film a bloodbath. Let me stress that it's a bloodbath of the over-the-top, mind-numbing, guts-on-the wall variety. Sadly, that's almost par for the course in 2007.
If psychologists could ever empirically connect the dots between violence on the screen and violence on the street, then the creators and perpetuators of this now-brainless and conscienceless genre would never have time to make any more movies. They'd be spending all their spare time in court trying to explain themselves.
For my part, I feel like I'm waving a sad farewell to all actioners. They've strayed so far from what they used to be they shouldn't even share the same name anymore.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Jet Li as Rogue; Jason Statham as Jack Crawford; John Lone as Chang; Devon Aoki as Kira; Luis Guzmán as Benny; Ryo Ishibashi as Shiro
Philip G. Atwell ( )