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Friday, August 24, 2007


I watched War at its local premier today, and to be honest, I liked it. It's more Hard-Boiled than The Transporter, and kudos for them trying a bunch of things in the film.

It's a plot-heavy film, and any time you try to mix Chinese Triads and Japanese Yakuza -- and genuinely try to get it right -- you're taking on a lot.

There's also a bunch of interpersonal stuff the film works pretty hard to flesh out, which gives those relationships a sense of depth -- not much, but more than I would expect for a shoot -em up, and I appreciate it.

There's a twist I didn't see coming. I'm still playing with how believable I think it is, but I'm good with it right now.

Devon Aoki makes a relatively brief appearance as Kira, and does more than she did in Dead or Alive (DOA).

And I should preface any criticism of the film with the fact that -- at least from the IMDb entry -- it appears this is an effort from a bunch of first timers (writers Lee Anthony Smith and Gregory J. Bradley, and director Philip G. Atwell, at least as far as a theatrical foray goes). This is a great "first attempt". Of course Producers, Cinematography (Pierre Morel), Production Design (Chris August), and the Editorial Department are not first-timers, so that helps immensely.

But like I said, the film is plot-heavy, and it's story- and action-light.

I'm glad I got to see Aoki do more. But I would have like to see leads Jet Li and Jason Statham do more. Jet Li gets a better chance to show his acting chops in Unleashed (Danny the Dog) , and I enjoyed Jason Statham more in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

And where the plot was thick, there were way too many "tell, don't show" moments where some dialog put the brakes on forward motion so we could bridge a couple of happenings, or get some back story. Dead giveaway that something else needs fixing.All that said, it's an enjoyable couple of hours, and I recommend it.

As far as other good stuff, there are some fun cinematography techniques in the film. I particularly enjoyed the one particular pan from location to location, and from day to night. They pulled it off well.

The audio's great, too. On the music side, there's a neat little bridge from what I think is a Yangqin or Guqin (could be a Pipa) to a more modern, rocking musical rendition. It's well done, with the traditional music continuing to flow underneath in a cool way. Just way too brief.

And Saul Rubinek rocks.

As far as meta-criticism, I wish they'd stop breaking rules. Like the "don't kill kids and pets" rules. There are those that tell me those are outmoded restrictions. But I wonder what the slippery slope is.

Finishing on a positive note, I think this is the first time I've been aware of all of the trailers shown before the movie are for films for which I'm sooo excited: 3:10 to Yuma; 30 Days of Night; Hitman, Shoot 'Em Up; The Dark Knight; Good Luck, Chuck (the last just because I want to see if they can pull off stretching the gag for an entire film).

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