The movie War does contain an element of a war, a gang war between the Yakuza and the Triad. But that conflict is very much secondary to the conflict between the two lead characters which is why the movie poster is much more accurate than the movie name. But there’s still more story than just a simple conflict and in fact, War is a nicely layered movie.
The movie begins by introducing us to Crawford and Chang, cops who are such tight partners that their families hang out on weekends together. Chang and his wife and child are killed at his home and when Crawford arrives, his life’s mission becomes taking down the professional killer responsible, a near mythic figure named Rogue. Some didn’t believe that Rogue existed and those that did questioned whether Rogue was still alive. But the death of the Chang family proves to Crawford that he is real and alive.
Years go by while Crawford is waiting for Rogue to resurface after the Chang family murders. When Rogue does return, you can’t tell if he is working for Triad or Yakuza and we eventually come to realize he is trying to incite a battle between them so they can destroy each other.
A very clever plot twist, which I will not reveal, comes in nearly four fifths through the movie. Just when I was thinking that the movie was a little too typical and not interesting enough, you begin to realize what Rogue’s motivation is. And the movie is written in such a way that while you despise Rogue for his past actions, you have a hard time routing against him for what you see. And the last two chapters on the DVD tie things up neatly (packages are delivered by Rogue to various surviving characters and a certain amount of exposition to confirm what you’ve been wondering) and left me very satisfied.
The movie is violent and was a little hard for me to follow. But the movie is titled War and stars Jason Statham and Jet Li, so violence was expected. I found the subtitles to be very helpful for understanding the various accents in the movie and the quiet dialog by the main characters during some of the important scenes. Also, the DVD extras were very helpful at answering some of my lingering questions. Before watching the extras, I probably would have rated the film one or two points lower. In particular, the Director Philip G. Atwell, (apparently mostly well known for music videos) comes across extremely bright and savvy about filmmaking in his interview segments. I’m looking forward to more movies from him.
War is an ultimately clever film that still delivers the action.
Rating: 8 (out of 10)