Jason Statham Catherine Chan James Hong Reggie Lee Sandor Tecsy
As expected, this R-rated film is loaded with action and brutality, with the star,
Jason Statham as Luke Wright, doing what he is known for—impossible feats against
innumerable foes where he comes out on top no matter the odds. He plays a former
cop and mixed martial arts fighter who is well known enough to be recognized on the
street. But this story is a little different, in that this time we find his character
very depressed because the Russians have just killed his wife and forbidden him to
have any life at all, as punishment for not throwing a fight, costing them big bucks.
If Luke shows any interest in a person, whether in a casual or serious way, that
person will be killed. It is not really clear to me why they choose that course
rather than killing him outright; he does offer himself up. Maybe they simply want
to torture him.
One of the twists of the story involves a 10-year old Chinese girl named Mei (Catherine
Chan), whom he notices in a subway station and picks up on the fact that she is trying
to evade some Russians who are looking for her. This is enough to rouse him out
of the doldrums, and he catches up with her by climbing on the top of her subway
train as it leaves the station, gets inside, and proceeds to rescue her from her
pursuers. She gives him a sense of purpose, and the plot thickens when he gradually
surmises that not only the Russians, but the Chinese and corrupt NYPD officers are
after her as well. He is acquainted with all these characters from some previous
The story moves along rapidly, sustaining the viewer’s interest throughout. The
interactions between Luke and Mei are realistically cautious in the beginning (he,
curious but paternal and she, suspicious and matter-of-fact), and warm up as they
face one crisis after another. The actors play their parts well, and we soon care
about what happens to them. Writer/director Boaz Yakin deserves credit for making
sure that a strong emotional valence gives meaning to the action, although the frequent
bloody gun and martial arts battles become a bit tedious and feel absurd toward the
end, except for the final scenes, which brought cheers from the audience at the screening
I attended. The twists at the end are very rewarding.
Bottom line: A well constructed film with fine acting and with appeal to those who
like action/crime thrillers.