Filmed mostly in Vancouver and screened almost exclusively to Canadian critics -- many of whom were unimpressed, "War" opens this weekend as the big action billing of the week. (Not for a lack of other films opening in wide release -- it's a big weekend with six -- simply the genres are quite varied this weekend.)
FBI agent Jack (Jason Statham)'s partner Tom (Jet Li), his wife and child are killed by the infamous and elusive assassin Rogue. Three years after their deaths, Jack is hot back on Rogue's trail; Jack is bent on avenging the death, and his role on the FBI's Asian Organized Crime Unit team member helps.
Jack finds his investigation in the middle of a feud between Yakuza boss Shiro and his rival Chang, each having made deals with Rogue to kill many of the other guys, and a fight over Chang's two priceless horse statues (which Chang's daughter Kira is helping him manage and oversee operations).
Lots of shooting and killing, and a nice balance of martial arts fighting (hand-to-hand and with bladed weapons) all keep the action junkies happy. The downside of all this adventure is the plot isn't completely spoon-fed, so yes, one will actually need to pay attention for some of it. (They begin by making things painfully obvious, several times showing you the link between the assassin and his trademark bullet casing left behind, then whoosh! -- it's time to kick that habit and follow along.)
You find that with many things in life, not everyone is quite as they seem, and their allegiances can be influenced; there's no steadfast loyalty to any one thing forever. And that keeps the plot evolution interesting... and without those shifts, we'd be sitting through just another action hero film. (If that's what you seek, grab any of the "Die Hard" films on DVD.)
Jason Statham and Jet Li again deliver pretty impressive performances, despite not being on the 'A' list of those whose on-screen talents are well leveraged consistently. If this weekend is on your calendar as one to step from the chick flicks and comedies, "War" may be the one for you.