Starring Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, James Hong, Chris Sarandon, Anson Mount
Fight Choreography by J.J Perry and Chad Stahelski
Directed by Boaz Yakin
The great thing about Jason Statham, being the only A-list martial artist who makes Hollywood films (this needs to change ASAP. I’m looking at you, Hollywood) is that you know pretty much what you’ll get when you put the words Statham and Action together: a healthy mix of martial arts and gunplay, and badass quips. His best mix of these are his Transporter films, and the rest of his action filmography is a mixed bag. So is Safe closer to Transporter or closer to War?
Safe tells the story of Luke Wright (Statham) who starts off as a boxer who doesn’t throw a fight, and since the Russian mafia had bet a lot of money, take it out on Luke by murdering his wife. The Russians let Luke live, but with the knowledge that anyone he befriends will be killed (and they are killed). Meanwhile, in China, a young girl named Mei exibits a genius intellect for numbers, even though she doesn’t like them, and is kidnapped and held to work for the Traids and their leader Han Jiao (Hong). Fast forward to a year later, and Luke is on the streets living as a homeless man, and we find that he was once an undercover cop, who had turned over his partners to internal affairs. Meanwhile Mei is being transported to a location where she is to be give the second set of numbers she is to memorize which will open a safe somewhere in the city. During her transport the Traids are attacked by the Russians, and Mei escapes and is found by Luke, who defends her from the Russians. Together, Mei and Luke save each other, and if they play their cards right, they can do so and get rich at the same time…
Safe is a decent film, and Statham delivers as always. He plays Luke like the broken man he is, yet he still responds to his call to action. Catherine Chan is good as Mei, even though she doesn’t say much, she conveys it through her eyes. James Hong is Mr. Dependable as the Triad thug, as is Chris Sarandon as a corrupt mayor of New York. The story is at issue here, particularly in the way the film fills in the blanks of Luke’s life for the audience with no prior hints whatsoever. It’s like instant revelations constantly occur: He was once a Cop! He was part of a Task Force! He ratted out his partners! The Mayor’s Aide is some kind of mega-killer-badass! It all seemed to be items shoehorned in to explain the plot, which made parts of the film to appear as if written by someone taking a screenwriting class. I get slow reveals, but these were too many for the wrong reasons.
The fights were good here, if not very many. The train fight was probably the best fight, as was the fight in the hotel restaurant area, a chaotic mix of martial arts and gunplay that was exciting and fun. The most disappointing fight is the one that didn’t happen: the fight between the Mayor’s Aide (Anson Mount, from Hell on Wheels) and Luke. It had the look of a classic badass fight but is ended before it can start thanks to some quick thinking on Mei’s part. It was such a surprising moment I can forgive the fact that it took away what appeared to be a great duel.
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 7
Safe is an entertaining film and Jason Statham delivers the goods as always. A nice way to spend a Friday night.