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War (Rogue Assassin)

dir: Philip G. Atwell
[img_assist|nid=71|title=No, I'm the worst actor out of the pair of us! Say it!|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=300]
Oh what a deliciously terrible movie. What a deliciously terrible 80s movie. How bizarre that they would bring out such a movie, as if constructed by random bits of other 80s movies, in the year 2008.

Actually, I’m going to have to apologise for using the word ‘deliciously’ to describe the abject terribleness of this flick. That makes it sound like the flick is worth seeing regardless. It probably isn’t. It probably, for other people, isn’t so bad that it’s good.

It is for me, because I found myself shaking my head and laughing appreciatively at just how moronic this script was, and how every scene in this flick has a nugget of pure shiteness casting its rosy glow over everything that happens.

As far as I can tell, the flick has undergone name changes and confused delays because of another flick that was going to come out at the same time (Greg Maclean’s Rogue, about a giant croc), and because of studio interference. Well, this flick is a giant crock, and the studio should have interfered more. Who greenlit this idiotic script? Who got these world class, master class terrible performances from everybody concerned? Which one of you executives deserves to have their balls cut off or their ovaries cut out?

Rogue is the codename of a mysterious super assassin who super assassinates whole bunches of people, seemingly at the behest of the yakuza, the mysterious and fearsome Japanese underworld. In movies they’re always depicted as childish and sadistic bullies, and this flick, being constructed as I said earlier from the most cliché parts of other crappy flicks, is no exception.

He is killing Chinese gangsters, being the Triads, who are locked in a war with the yakuza. Because of some golden horses. I’m not making that up.

As this masterpiece cinema opens, two FBI agents are trying to catch the roguish Rogue. The FBI agents comprise a dynamic duo of Crawford (Jason Statham, he of the Transporter action flicks), and some Asian guy. Asian guy thinks he’s shot Rogue, but Rogue then turns up at his house and kills everyone.

Three years later, and Rogue (now played by Jet Li) is doing a Yojimbo, seemingly playing both gangs off of each other for his own mysterious ends. Crawford continues to pursue him, wanting revenge. But not only that; he also wants to portray every lazy cop/law enforcement cliché on the long road to getting there.

Crawford vows revenge on Rogue. Rogue vows revenge on someone, possibly puppies. Everyone wants revenge or wants the golden horses, or both, or either and a restoration of their honour and standing in their respective clans. Or they want revenge and a large order of fries and a milkshake.

It’s not overstating it much to say that Statham puts in the worst performance of the fmovie and of his life. I’ve seen him be okay in some stuff, and downright fucking terrible in some other stuff, but this transcends all levels of badness. He’s flat out terrible, and gives nothing salvageable from beginning to end. About the only thing I got out of watching him was a headache. I could not believe that the director could be so inept at getting the right performances out of one of their actors, but then maybe Statham thinks he’s such a star that he doesn’t need to take direction. His line readings and emoting make you want to grind your teeth.

Jet Li is as stoic and emotionless as any statue from whichever dynasty of Chinese emperors you care to mention. Which I guess suits the part, but it also suits the fact that he doesn’t want to have too much dialogue, since his English is still pretty weak.

Since both of these chumps are action stars, you would have thought much of the film would be made up of mindless but enjoyable action scenes. It’s not. The mindless but enjoyable action scenes take up about five minutes of screen time, and are still directed incompetently. No-one watches Jet Li film for his thespian abilities, they watch them to see the little pocket rocket beat three shades of shit out of everyone that is unlucky enough to cross his path.

Too little, too late.

Above and beyond the idiocy of the script, and, I’m telling you, the script is the product of a sheltered workshop of idiots not seen since the Dickensian era, the manner in which the story transpires has to be not seen to be believed. It seems to depict a world of crime and law enforcement as imagined not by the 14-year-old emblematic teenage boy Hollywood usually pitches its movies towards, but by his 8-year-old brother who fell down a well in the 1980s and hasn’t been able to grow or get out since.

Yakuza and Triads? Yakuza and Triad gangsters sitting around on their motorbikes, seeing someone else on a motorbike and screaming “Yakuza! I hate Yakuza. I must kill them” or “Triads! I hate Triads”, and then commencing to brawl using swords and bits of wood pulled out of trashcan fires?

Are you fucking kidding me?

What about an FBI agent who, when he isn’t choking on his wretched dialogue, is torturing witnesses or murdering people who annoy him with dialogue like “If this was Tokyo you’d already be dead?”

Gee, was the line so good in Lethal Weapon 4 that it had to be repeated here? You’re ripping of lines of dialogue from Lethal Weapon 4?!?!? Have you no decency sir, in the end, have you no decency?

Even the henchmen and the small-role actors ham up a storm with some of the worst line readings I can imagine. It’s rare that I ever use the tired line of “I could have played it better than that”, but honestly, there are scenes in this flick where I could have played a more convincing Japanese or Chinese person.

And I don’t look or sound even vaguely Asian.

The deeply retarded plot has two plot twists towards the end, one which is obvious right from the opening scene, and another which just muddles an already terrible story and results in an ending no-one could possibly have cared about.

This flick should be taught at film schools the world over as to how not to make movies. Everything, from the line readings, the dialogue, the hackneyed script, the acting, the editing down to the catering is incompetent. This is the second time Jet Li and Jason Statham have been in the same flick, and this is as bad as The One was, if not worse, so some kind of legislation needs to be passed to ban the two of them ever conspiring against us ever again.

Don’t bother, not even drunk.

2 ways in which this makes Showdown in Little Tokyo look like Akira Kurosawa in comparison.

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“Make a new life.” – sound advice for everyone involved in this movie, urging them to give up acting and filmmaking in general, War.

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