Jason Statham may have set out to become this generation's Sylvester Stallone, yet not because of lack of trying or charisma, he ended up being this generation's Steven Seagal. His films are not the films pulp dreams are made of, his has become the presence that haunts DVD racks with slashed prices. Jet Li, his comrade in arms as far as Hollywood is concerned, is much the same, only he now needs a Statham for a film of his to be legitimately made.
How did we get here? How did things get so bad as War, or Rogue Assassin as it is called in all of Asia Pacific? Thankfully, it's not my job to answer that question, so I can safely, and without a worry, shake my fist at Hollywood and tell them they broke two of our coolest action stars. The state of affairs is so sorry that with two major action dudes in an action film, the first half is mind-numbingly boring. Boring! Imagine that.
All the usual B-movie plot machinations are here, from a hard cop to the sneaky assassin on a mission to the now standard backstabbing and last minute volte faces. When the partner of FBI agent Crawford (Jason Statham) is killed by a mysterious assassin, he vows revenge and keeps looking. Some years later, a killer named Rogue (Jet Li) (really? Rogue?) comes back and is involved in a territorial dispute between the Chinese and Japanese gangs.
What follows is a mindless series of less than exciting ups and downs and lots of style shots with no action. After more than an hour-and-a-half, you get to see what you paid for - a fight between the two main leads, and even then it is boringly executed and overly stylized to be exciting. There are plenty of sword fights, chases and gun fights till that point, but they are all uninterestingly shot, and have no energy.
The only thing standing between this film and a big fat zero is Statham. He utilizes his immense charisma to the fullest and brings a semblance of fun to the proceedings. Li has the role he is quickly becoming famous for - the quiet silent types with immaculate organizing skills and deadly attacks. He is still an understated star, and you can tell when he bursts into the screen that he knows it.
It is a big disappointment and yet another B-movie release thrown at us till the better films start coming along. If you have nothing to do this weekend, Rogue Assassin can be your cup of timepass tea only, and only, if you are a fan of both Statham and Li. In all other cases, please make like Li and run very fast.