Movie Review – War (2007)
by HELEN GEIB
War has a stupid plot. A very, very stupid plot. It culminates in two stupid “reveals.” The first is ludicrous, but at least you could kind of see the movie going there. The second is the type of plot twist that makes you want to throw the scriptwriter at the screen. I am tempted to describe the plot of War as exceptionally stupid, but that might be a small overstatement prompted by the rush of disappointment I feel over what a complete waste of time this movie proved to be for Jet Li, Jason Statham, me, and the rest of their fans.
That War is a bad movie is not entirely due to the script– the direction is lousy– but it is a bad movie primarily because the plot is so stupid. I can hear the objections to this verdict now. From the action movie fan: so what if the plot is stupid, how is the action? From the non-action movie fan: action movies are always stupid, so why are you making such a big deal over this?
To these objections I answer: 1) a good plot is important to an action movie just as it is to any other kind of movie; and, 2) no, action movies do not always have stupid plots. A good action movie may have a good plot, it may have a simple plot, it may have a cliched and formulaic plot, it may have a silly plot. It does not have a stupid plot.
Reference may be made to one of Jet Li’s earlier and much superior American projects, Kiss of the Dragon. The story of Kiss of the Dragon goes as follows. Hero has confrontation with villain (insert action scene). Villain chases hero, but hero escapes (insert action scene). Villain retaliates by killing someone hero cares for (insert action scene). Villain abducts innocent (insert crying child and suffering mother). Hero storms villain’s stronghold to rescue innocent and exact revenge (insert action scene). Mother and child are reunited (insert tears of joy).
This story is simple and formulaic, but it is not stupid. Kiss of the Dragon is arguably a bad movie for its atrocious dialogue, the rampant scenes of Bessonesque female degradation, and Tcheky Karyo’s jaw-dropping overacting, but its plot is a logical and well-paced clothesline for the many fantastic action sequences.
It is true that a bad action movie may still be worth seeing if the action is good and the movie as a whole provides a good showcase for its action-hero star. Despite all the things I dislike about Kiss of the Dragon, I’ve watched it seven times with pleasure and will watch it again. The action content of War is negligible in both quantity and quality. War barely rates a first viewing for its stars’ most devoted fans, and rates no viewing at all for everyone else.