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After his partner is brutally murdered by the infamous assassin Rogue, FBI agent Jack Crawford vows to find the elusive killer and personally avenge his partner's death. But Rogue proves untraceable until three years later when he resurfaces to ignite a bloody turf war between Chinese mob leader Chang and Japanese Yakuza boss Shiro. Eager to capture Rogue once and for all, Crawford leads his team of crime specialists headlong into the conflict. But Crawford's thirst for vengeance jeopardizes his professional judgment, and as the violence escalates, Crawford finally comes face to face with his enemy to discover that nothing about Rogue or his plan is quite what it seems.
For more about War and the War Blu-ray release, see War Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 23, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Philip G. Atwell
Writers: Gregory J. Bradley, Lee Anthony Smith
Starring: Jet Li, Jason Statham, John Lone, Luis Guzmán, Devon Aoki, Sung Kang
» See full cast & crew
War Blu-ray Review
'War' is disappointing action movie that nevertheless shines on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 23, 2008
Pain can be a weapon, if you so choose.
If pain is indeed a weapon, War ranks on the hurt scale at just about the same place that you'd find a Jasper Woodcock whack to the groin with a whiffle ball bat. It won't kill you, but it sure doesn't feel good, either. That's the Jet Li / Jason Statham action flick in a nutshell, really. It's not as bad as a root canal or sky diving without a parachute, but it's not eating tasty ice cream or winning the lottery, either. War is a pretty standard action flick with lots of guns, swords, blood, explosions, car chases, and all that cool stuff that either makes or breaks an action movie based on execution and style. Unfortunately, this movie falls short of distinguishing itself in any way, shape, or form, and the end result is a forgettable shoot and slice 'em up flick that might entertain the first time around but is definitely not worth repeat viewings.
War stars action man Jason Statham (Crank) as FBI special Agent Crawford. He and his partner Tom Lone (Terry Chen, Snakes on a Plane) engage Japanese assassin Rogue (Jet Li, Kiss of the Dragon) and presumably kill him, but his body is never recovered. Shortly thereafter, Lone and his family are murdered by a resurgent Rogue and Crawford becomes a man obsessed with hunting the assassin down once and for all. Several years later, Rogue resurfaces, acting again as an assassin for the Chinese crime syndicate group known as the Triads who are at war with their rival group, the Japanese Yakuza. As Crawford closes in on the identity of Rogue, he'll learn a dark and troubling secret about the killer of his former partner, and be forced to reconcile with his past and fight his enemies in the present.
What have we here? Another action film in which the plot was probably scribbled onto construction paper and characters that couldn't be any more cardboard if I cut them out of the box UPS just delivered to my house. While the movie has a nice surprise revelation at the end, the rest of the movie is as generic as they come, borrowing plot contrivances from other films and recycling action scenes we've already seen a hundred times before. If there was anything fresh and exciting here, I missed it. I guess the main attractions are international action stars Jet Li and Jason Stratham, but both spend the movie acting bored and seemingly wishing they were in something better. All that said, War isn't a half bad guy movie, except for the fact that the action is far too disjointed, scattered, and for the most part, boring. However, if it's a cold, dark, lazy day outside, this one fits the bill nicely. Turn out the lights, lay down on the couch, and watch until you fall asleep. The boisterous action scenes will wake you up when there is something worth seeing.
War Blu-ray, Video Quality
War's 2.40:1, 1080p high definition image looks splendid on Blu-ray. This image is sharp with excellent color reproduction, clarity, detail, and depth. The end result is a nice, three- dimensional image on par with the best I've seen yet. Skin tones are rendered very well. Black levels are excellent, faltering only here and there, but shadow detail remains high nevertheless. The excellence evident in this transfer comes as no surprise. Lionsgate has been churning out some real winners recently, and War definitely ranks in the top tier of the studio's efforts. They've come a long way and if their most recent wave of releases, including Saw IV and 3:10 to Yuma, are indicative of future releases, get ready for some breathtaking discs to come.
War Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Lionsgate once again steps up to the plate and smacks a home run over the fence with another incredible uncompressed PCM 7.1 audio track. It's impressive, immersive, and powerful, creating a true high definition audio experience that is certainly the featured attraction on this disc. Everything is top notch. Surrounds are continuously active with natural extensions to the primary score and effects, creating a wonderful high end theater quality listening experience. Music sounds perfectly clear and natural and there are times that it sounds like the orchestra is playing in your room, live. I was literally grinning from ear to ear as the movie opened. The combination of the score, sound effects, deep bass, and powerful gunshots make for instant demo-quality material. Make sure you've got a good subwoofer hooked up before listening to this one. It'll be working overtime, delivering hard hitting lows throughout. A nightclub scene early on in the film reverberates with bass so deep that it instantly transports you onto the middle of the dance floor. The only issue I found with this track is that dialogue sometimes sounds a tad bit muted and muffled, but its a minor issue that isn't present most of the time. In conclusion, this is simply reference quality material. Lionsgate continues to prove themselves with quality releases that put home theater and Blu-ray fans first.
War Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
War arrives on Blu-ray with a grab-bag of supplements proving to be good, bad and indifferent. First up is a visual commentary with director Phillip Atwell. Of course, the main attraction here is that this commentary takes advantage of profile 1.1 Blu-ray features. Frankly, I was unimpressed. We see only a small box showing director Atwell at a microphone, and most of his commentary track is presented without the secondary image anyway. It's good that it only pops up now and again because watching a man sit at a microphone for two hours is, frankly, pretty dull. As far as his remarks, the track suffers from some very long pauses in between some halfway decent comments about the making of the film. Unless you're a major fan of the film, this one isn't worth a listen. Next up is a traditional audio-only commentary track with Lee Anthony Smith and Gregory J. Bradley, the two writers of the film. The two offer up a few anecdotes about what might have been, but they are rather sophomoric and offer little to no insight into the film.
The War Zone Trivia Track is an audio tour behind the scenes of the movie. A female voice gives us background on the studio, insights into the film, and behind-the-scenes information. The voice sounds robotic, as if a computer is reading back a script. We also hear interviews with various cast and crew members, and their picture pops up, covering about 1/3 of the screen. There are several errors, including the narrator stating, "Lionsgate has gained prominence over the past few years in part due to their horrific box office success..." I have a feeling they meant "terrific" rather than "horrific." This is a nice feature that needs a lot of polishing to make it work in the future.
Scoring War (1080i, 8:55) is a look at the making of the terrific music used in the film. Composer Brian Tyler discusses how he became attached to the project and the influences and styles chosen for the music. The War Chest is a nifty feature that allows viewers to go behind-the-scenes and explore four separate categories (story, stunts, sound, and style) when an icon prompts you to do so. Each feature is presented in 1080i. There is also an option to play them without waiting for the icon to pop up during the movie via the special features menu. Next up is B-Roll PiP that shows a short scene from the movie and how the bloody effects for said scene were created. Such a feature running during the length of the film would have made more sense and represents the type of information I'd like to see more of in the future with PiP technology.
"Blu-Line" is a nifty feature that is accessible by pushing any of the arrow keys on your remote control. Displayed on screen is the name of the chapter, the current runtime, and time remaining showing both a clock and a progress bar. The user can use the left and right arrow keys to move the time cursor across the progress bar to jump to a particular point in the film. Viewers can also bookmark scenes from this feature by pressing the green color button. "Blu-Line" remains on screen for several seconds.
Three deleted and extended scenes (1080p, 2:11) are next. Yakuza Prize Fighter Game is not really a game but an interactive virtual fight. You enter preselected moves for your fighter and watch the fight play out. Once the fight begins, you have no control over the fighters. Very lame. Finally, a gag reel, (1080p, 2:03) and trailers for The Condemned, Crank, Lord of War, and The Punisher conclude the supplemental materials.
War Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Ultimately, War is just another run of the mill action flick that seems a little better than it really is because of the tremendous Blu-ray presentation. The film suffers from a somewhat slow pace and bland acting, and it offers nothing new or exciting to the action genre. Fans of the film or those looking for reference material need to pick this one up immediately. War looks and sounds wonderful. The included special features are large in quantity but rather lackluster on quality. War is a nice way to kill off a boring evening, but nothing else, and it's certainly not worth your Blu-ray dollar. This is one to rent before making a decision to purchase.
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War Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Web-enabled Titles to Come this January - December 6, 2007
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced that two of their upcoming January Blu-ray titles will feature web-enabled features. As we reported from the Blu-ray Festival, 'War', which is scheduled to hit store shelves on January 1st, will feature a web-enabled ...
War Blu-ray Screenshots
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