Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Anything But Safe

Rated: R Language and strong violence throughout
Release Date: April 27, 2012
Runtime:  1 hr 35 mins

Director: Boaz Yakin
Writers: Boaz Yakin
Cast: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Robert John Burke, James Hong, Anson Mount, Chris Sarandon, Sandor Tecsy, Reggie Lee

SYNOPSIS: A former New York Police Department task force specialist turned cage fighter disappears off the grid after he puts his opponent in the hospital and his wife is murdered by the Russian Mob. Reappearing a year later, he is confronted by a situation involving the Russians, the Chinese, corrupt NYC cops, and a little Chinese girl with a gift for memory and math.

REVIEW: Screenwriter of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and director of Remember the Titans, Boaz Yakin writes and directs a new violent action film starring Jason Statham. No stranger to stitching together tales of fantasy, action, and drama, Boaz Yakin creates a gritty actioner with a dramatic twist.
Starting in China, a young girl named Mei (Catherine Chan) exhibits a great talent for math and memorization. Snatched from the streets, she is forced into service for Triad mobster Han Jiao (James Hong, Kung Fu Panda 2) to run his books for his syndicate in New York's Chinatown under the supervision. During the same year, former NYPD special task force specialist Luke Wright (Jason Statham, Killer Elite) turned underground cage fighter is forced off the grid after his fails to 'take a dive' during one of his fight and agents of the Russian mob murder his wife. A year later, Luke notices Mei on a subway platform trying to evade a group of dangerous looking men. Luke comes to Mei's aid as her protector, quickly igniting a brutal and deadly gang war between the Russian mob, the Triads, and corrupt NYC cops with an ax to grind with Luke - all trying to recover Mei and the vital information her brain contains.

Trying to channel both real drama and a John Woo sense of violence, Yakin creates a story that tries to emulate Luc Besson's Leon: The Professional. The first act of the film spends its time fleshing out the plot line for Mei and her burgeoning life of business in crime and Luke's solitary and near-suicidal life on the streets. Once Luke notices Mei on the subway platform and he realizes the men trying to find her may mean her harm, though, the gloves come off and Jason Statham does what he does best. The beat down he hands out to Emile Docheski (Sandor Tecsy, Burn After Reading) men is nothing short of sweet. As the interested parties increase in manpower and firepower, Luke Wright must battle the greater odds with a mix of savvy and savagery. The drama and deeper storyline is fine, but the best parts of the film are the adrenaline and intrigue that comes as a pulsing byproduct of the trail of bodies that Luke Wright leaves in his wake in an attempt to keep a little girl with a big secret safe.

Like Leon: The Professional, Safe is a story about a professional killer who befriends a little girl in need. That is where the similarities end. Statham's Luke is not a simple man raised by the mob to be an expert assassin. Statham's character is a professionally trained killer who has had so much government investment and money spent on his behalf and has spent years in the field honing his brutal craft. At one point mayor of New York Tremello (Chris Sarandon, Fright Night) mentions to his police precinct captain Wolf (Robert John Burke, Limitless) how Wright's training is so deep and extensive he is essentially a ghost at this point. Statham's chiseled jawline, snarky cool demeanor, and practiced physicality make the film as good as it could be.

Yakin's script is decent as a whole, setting up various characters and conflicts that Wright and the little girl Mei must contend with. Like Bruce Willis' Mercury Rising, Mei and her mental abilities hold the key to everyones' plan. What she has in her head makes the Russians, the Triad, corrupt cops with a history with Wright, and even officials in the mayor's office want her alive at all costs, or at least dead to keep the competition from extracting any information from her. Catherine Chan plays her role 
both with innocence and with the sense of a girl who has seen too much violence at such an early age. 

Some of my issues come not from Statham or Chan, but from some of the secondary characters. Some of the dialogue is stilted and cheesy, even for the genre. In other spots, scenes are forced or spoon-fed to the audience for decimation of plot worthy information. As the story is established in the first half of the film, many of these elements are more distracting than useful. But once Statham gets to work, the audience is treated to a roller coaster ride of ass-kickery, rampant gunfire, car chases, and intelligent and cool choreography. I just wish there was more for Anson Mount's (Straw Dogs) Alex Rosen to do in the film. Come for the drama, stay for the action!

Some may consider this one of Statham's best works. I would agree in the sense that the action is superior and slick. We are treated to right crosses, double-crosses, and heavy crosses to bare. The story is sophisticated for the genre, but fails to deliver in some of the early execution. Otherwise, you will laugh and cheer for Statham and Chan as they take on the mob, the cops, the city, and anyone else who gets in their way.

WORTH: Matinee or DVD

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