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Sunday, May 6, 2012

The World's Greatest Movie Reviews: Safe (Rated-R)

In my attempt to keep up more regular entries on this blog, I have decided to add film reviews to my repertoire. Whether they are new films, new to DVD, films several years old or ones you've simply never even heard of, I will review them. Although I am starting with a film that just came out (and that I just saw two days ago), I will look at older films down the road as well. If you have any that you'd like me to review, please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments section, and I will take it under consideration.

Safe, as you can tell by the poster, stars action film icon Jason Statham. Statham plays Luke Wright, a former police officer-turned-low-level MMA fighter. While being set up for a big fight in New Jersey that he is supposed to take a dive on, he winds up accidentally knocking out his opponent with one punch in the first round, leaving the man unconscious. Unfortunately, a lot of powerful people bet on Wright losing, namely members of the Russian mafia. After killing Wright's wife, the Russians allow him to live, with the caveat that anyone who even speaks to him down the road will die. In order to avoid innocent lives being lost, Wright moves back to his hometown of New York City, where he becomes a vagrant in order to avoid causing anymore problems for anyone.

At the same time, a little girl named Mei (Catherine Chan) has been adopted by a member of a Chinese Triad clan. It turns out Mei has a brain like a computer, and can memorize complex mathematical equations, as well as basically anything related to numbers, and the Triads want to use this ability to keep track of their businesses. Mei is asked to keep track of a very long, complicated number by her "uncle" Han (James Wong), which she does. However, before she can put the number to it's intended use, the Russians-who also want what the number is attached to-kidnap her from the Triads. She manages to escape during a raid by the police-who are all crooked cops playing the Triads and Russians against each other, working for whoever pays the most-escaping to the subway.

As Wright is about to board his own subway, he contemplates suicide, being unable to deal with the death of his wife and the mess his entire life has become since. As he's about to step in front of an oncoming subway, he sees Mei running from the Russians-the same Russians who killed his wife. Not being able to sit idly by and watch an innocent girl get hurt, Wright takes the situation into his own hands, saving Mei and becoming her protector. From this point, he and Mei figure out the meaning behind the series of numbers Han gave her, and thanks to Wright being rather intelligent himself, discover it's a combination to a safe, hence the title of the film.

Mei and Wright amidst one of the films many gun battles.
Through a series of events eventually putting Wright in contact with the leader of the Russian mafia, who informs Wright that contained in the safe is $30,000,000.00 in cash. Wright, after cutting a deal with several crooked cops whom he used to work closely with, tracks down the safe, tearing through both the Russians and the Triads in the process.

I don't want to give away too much more for those that haven't seen it, but if the story is sounding paper-thin at all, that's because it pretty much is. However, this movie is pretty much the definition of a "popcorn" action flick, and when you're watching this type of film, story doesn't mean a whole lot, as you're there for plenty of action. Needless to say, Safe has it in spades. Statham does what he does best throughout the movie, and that's pretty much kick the ass of everyone he comes across, often in funny or creative ways. As a wrestling fan, my favorite part was seeing him land a German suplex on a Triad through a table at a restaurant.

It's a pretty typical Statham flick in that regard, but it's what the guy does best, and considering he doesn't take himself all that seriously as an actor, there's absolutely nothing wrong with. Adding a legend like James Wong (Big Trouble in Little China) to the cast helps add a little credibility as well, as most of the other actors are not very recognizable. Chan also plays her part well, working the role of an intelligent child who is also a smartass to a T, making the character of Mei very enjoyable and a character you can get attached to.

Admittedly, Statham is one of my all-time favorite actors, and has only done one film I didn't enjoy, so I wasn't too worried about a lack of enjoyment going into this film. Turns out, I was right, as he most definitely doesn't disappoint. While others might not feel the same way, if you are an action fan, you should definitely enjoy this one. Yes, the story's thin and it's a lot of over-the-top fist fights and shoot-outs, but if you're an action fan, chances are that's exactly what you're wanting/expecting anyway. And, if you're a Jason Statham fan, you pretty much already know you're going to have fun.

Recommendation: Thumbs up.

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