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September 24, 2007

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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.

1/2 star


3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lola
    Sep 26 2007

    Helen-
    I love Jet Li. I like most of his movies, and I , like you was sorely dissapointed. Yes- The plot was soooooooo dumb- UGH…

  2. Geoff
    Oct 5 2007

    I couldn’t agree more. This was an astonishingly bad film with zero redeeming aspects. It was such a depressing experience to sit through this film. It amazes me that anyone, at any point in the process, thought any aspect of the film would be a good idea. I love Jet Li and he has made excellent English language films (Kiss of the Dragon being my favorite and I think it is in fact a good film) and cannot help but wonder, like you, why Jet Li is making films like Cradle 2 the Grave and War. So very depressing.

  3. Miriam
    Oct 6 2007

    I’m hardly going to defend this movie but there were a couple of visually arresting scenes. I really liked the look of the brief chase/fight in the oversize pipes and there were some good bits with the revolving door in the big showdown. The lighting and camera work here were so much more interesting than any other scenes in the movie that I wonder if someone else directed them.

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