'Safe' is your typical Jason Statham action flick. I think it's fair to say, we don't watch Jason Statham movies expecting Oscar nominations; we watch his movies mainly because the action is phenomenal. If you want to watch a good, action packed movie, then 'Safe' is a safe bet this weekend. See what I did there?
Safe (I) (2012)
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'Safe' is your typical Jason Statham action flick. I think it's fair to say, we don't watch Jason Statham movies expecting Oscar nominations; we watch his movies mainly because the action is phenomenal. If you want to watch a good, action packed movie, then 'Safe' is a safe bet this weekend. See what I did there?
McDonald's makes Big Macs, each and every one identical in looks and taste to the other. Jason Statham makes Jason Statham movies, each and every one identical... you get the idea. And also like Big Macs, some of his movies are fresher than others. Safe qualifies as one of his fresher efforts. Not hot off the grill fresh, but not 20 minutes under a heat lamp either.
Tightly paced, competently acted and filled with slightly above average fight scenes, Safe is the kind of movie that will satiate you until a tastier movie comes along.
When watching a film like this, suspending your disbelief is a must, which is just a given. Things happen in this movie that not only wouldn't be possible, but you wonder how some characters can escape out of situations not only alive, but untouched. But this was actually one of my favorite Stathom movies in a while. I despised his recents efforts in throwaway films like The Mechanic and Killer Elite. It hasn't been since Transporter 3, another mindless romp, that I've enjoyed one of films this much.
The film's worth seeing if you're an action movie fan with some time to kill, in sort of a Sunday afternoon stay at home type of way. You'll cringe at the acting and dialogue of the little Chinese girl, but you'll be entertained.
Jason Statham action vehicle written and directed by Boaz Yakin. Yakin's previous directing efforts include 'REMEMBER THE TITANS', 'UPTOWN GIRLS' and 'FRESH', so a B action film starring Jason Statham is an interesting choice for the filmmaker. The story revolves around Statham playing an ex-cagefighter who's made enemies with the Russian mob and corrupt NYC police department that comes to the aid of a young girl wanted by both. The movie is surprisingly unsentimental and a pretty hard hitting action film. Statham fans should be more than pleased.
Statham plays Luke Wright, a small time MMA fighter who fails to throw a fight and pisses off everyone who was betting against him, including the Russian mob. The mobsters kill his wife and threaten him with the knowledge that he'll always be watched and anyone he befriends or even comes in to contact with will be killed. So he travels the streets of New York City alone, depressed and ready to kill himself until he meets a young girl named Mei (Catherine Chan) in need of his help. Mei is an eleven-year-old mathematical genius who was forced to work for the Triad and now holds the code to an important safe in her head. She's wanted by the Triad, Russian Mafia and corrupt NYC cops. Luke takes it upon himself to help her and of course finds a new reason to live.
The premise and adds could lead you to believe that this is another cheesy and sappy action star befriending kid film but Jason Statham fans can rejoice in the fact that he doesn't take that path. Statham is a much more respectable and high moraled movie tough guy than the likes of The Rock and Vin Diesel. At least thus far in his career he can't be labeled a sellout. This film is about as violent and brutal as any film Statham has done. Thanks in large part to Yakin's decent directing. The script could have used some work; it's routine and lacking bite. The story of Statham befriending the little Chinease girl does still have some heart and emotion though, but just the right amount. As far as Statham action films go this one is about average. Exactly what I expect from one, no more and no less.
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Jason is the man who reigns supreme in this film and leaves a strong impression on the audiences mind with his stellar performance. His smile, dialogue delivery and every expression deserves a bow.
The director Boaz Yakin handles the scenes well and never lets the adrenaline rush or the script to fall flat. He keeps the audiences glued to their seat and this versatile man gives as a slick action thriller which is far better than Haywire,The Mechanic or Killer Elite.
The script is well written and every scene is well handled. Dialogues are brilliant and none of the scene fall flat. No unnecessary toilet humour and soundtracks have made the film even more appealing.
Safe is an amazing movie with unforgettable action scene and car chase sequences and one of the best of Jason Statham. Highly Recommended.
It's a bit of Mercury Puzzle and 16 Blocks. And despite my usual fears, the story did not turn cheesy due to the kid. But the girl didn't turn into an unrealistic bad ass as well. Also they did not develop a forced deep relationship between Luke and Mei, which would be unrealistic, considering that the story doesn't go that long. The film is featuring fast paced action, wrapped into a decent (though not great) story and is supported by good acting. Well, at least good acting from the leading characters, but the supporting ones weren't that bad as well, so you don't have to suffer from it. So overall, a quite enjoyable movie, which I would recommend to fans of story driven action movies and especially to all Statham fans.
Just for fun, let's check the Statham clichés. Shirtless? Yep, first time you see him in the movie. Car-chase? Of course. And when Mei was a bit concerned about his driving style, I was just waiting for a comeback from him that was like "Don't worry kid, I've been doing this for several movies now."
Curiously, many critics slam Statham and Yakin for doing formulae and not stretching Statham's range. This is craftsman-like formulae. Statham delivers the action we want to see on screen. The fight scenes in the Russian and Triad clubs are amazing. I particularly loved the scene where Statham's Luke meets Chan's Mei in the New York subway. Statham viciously disposes the Russian thugs after Mei with hooks, kicks, throws, and joint shattering locks. He is the best martial arts action star right now. He always offsets his physical elegance and power with a gruff austere visage. I think he actually displays more of his humanity than in other movies. He tears as he surrenders himself to the men who murdered his wife and child. What makes "Safe" work is Statham and Chan's gentle bond.
Chan is more than just the cute kid in peril. She makes Mei even smarter than she lets on. She is the math genius forced to memorize a series of numbers. In a quiet scene Mei tells Luke, "They are not random." Luke gets, "They're a code." Don't under estimate the enrollment of Statham as protector of Chan. Chan's Mei confesses to Luke, "I don't need another father. I need a friend." I loved when Luke tells Mei that she will be safe "until my dying day".
When we meet Luke (Statham) in the present and through a series of flashbacks, he appears as a second rate cage fighter, now homeless. He mistakenly floors a YouTube sensation (nice touch by Yakin) in a fight, and puts him in the hospital. The Russian mob kills his wife and unborn child, because he did not throw the match. A lot does not add up. Luke is a world class fighter. There is more to his pathology that the script should have shaded. It turns out Luke was one of the toughest cops in the city, who had honor in a corrupt police force. More so his relationship with evil Chris Sarandon as Mayor Tremello hints at Luke's darker origins as Black Ops assassin. Luke's former partner now enemy Alex (charismatic Anson Mount) is the sellout who still works for the Mayor. Mei (Chan) is the innocent math prodigy brought over to the States to work for the Triads. Leader Han (paternally evil James Hong) has Mei memorize vital numbers, not trusting computers and the like.
At his lowest point Luke sees Mei in the subway and from his point of view Luke sees that she saves his life. He also realizes that Mei is being chased by members of the Russian mob that he knows all too well. Yakin is clumsy here in the narrative synchronicity. I buy it, because I want to see Statham kick some ass. Really, I was in with the touching chemistry of Statham and Chan. They have an understated love for each other. Mei, who is beholding to Luke, confesses, "We save each other "
In the great showdown of good and powerful evil, I initially thought I was short changed. Then I realized heroes generate other heroes. There are many goofy things going on with "Safe" and they are forgiven. "Safe" gets that the hero always protects the one he or she loves. I really liked "Safe".
Overview: Like i mentioned earlier, fans of movies like The Mechanic, Blitz, Crank or Transporter, will probably keep on liking this. It's packed full of gun fights, karate/fist fights, explosions, car chases and Statham's signature grunting voice. The story itself is mixed. the whole thing with the girl, i like. People do have photogenic memories, and like James Hong says sending messages via computers is risky. So using the girl i get. The whole gangs fighting each other and corrupt cops is old news so all is right there. The one thing that troubled me was when the explained Statham's history. At one point he was just a cop, then he's some kind of Bane like experiment, didn't get that at all, but other than that the film is very fast paced, and wraps up nicely.
The opening 10 minuets of this film i really liked. They managed to set the story up of the two leads by mirroring their plot's. The girl is in a car, Statham is in a car, they both go to sleep etc and i really enjoyed it. This movie doesn't really offer anything new to the action genre, but neither does it fail.
Recommend: Statham fans yes, everyone else meh.
Overall: 7/10 For more of my reviews head to http://www.facebook.com/noelfilmreviews
11-year-old Mei (Catherine Chan) is abducted and forced to work for ruthless Chinese gangsters due to her extraordinary skills in memorization and mathematics. When Mei is given a numerical code to a safe containing 30 million dollars, the Triad, the Russian mafia, and corrupt New York officials all want her – dead or alive. Luckily for her, disgraced former cop Luke Wright (Jason Statham) happens upon the fleeing girl and rescues her. Determined to protect Mei, Wright launches a full-scale war against the criminal leaders and their vast armies of merciless killers.
Laudation goes to this film for knowing exactly what it is and not attempting anything out of its reach, hiding behind underdeveloped themes, or muddling genres. It doesn't waste time with Luke's history, in-depth personality traits, supporting people in his life, or even the visuals of his wife. In a matter of seconds, he's a lone wolf with nothing left to live for. He's the only honest cop in Manhattan, has a soft spot for victims of social injustice, and can kick some ass like a one-man army – all qualities that make him incompatible with comrades, the authorities, and villainy. In a world where everyone is corrupt and out to get him, Luke must battle Russian thugs, Chinese gangsters, police, politicians, and even pickpockets, armed quite heavily with martial arts skills, muscles (as evidenced by the very first scene he's in, sans shirt), an arsenal of random guns picked up along the way, and a salvo of hilariously macho catch phrases.
The editing is keen, with snazzy transitions, tricks to amp up the intensity of violence, and creative methods of boosting the body count. There's plenty of chaos for the sake of spectacle, and although boomingly extravagant, it's never augmented by the annoying shaky cam. The bad guys get it good and go through the obligatory merciless errands to deserve it. The climax is the highlight, with surprisingly unexpected bluster arising from the least likely route of commotion. Always aware of how generic action movies play out, Safe goes against the grain to deliver unique stunts, unpredictable showdowns, and unanticipated fun. It's a brisk 94 minutes that keeps the punches coming – in a guilty pleasure, mindless action/adventure variety.
- The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)
Meanwhile, the fighter Luke Wright (Jason Statham) has his life destroyed when he wins a fight against the will of the Russian Mafia and accidentally kills his opponent. The Russian mobsters kill his wife and the alcoholic Luke wanders on the streets and hostels with no objective in life.
One day, Han Jiao asks Mei to memorize a long number and soon the Russian Mafia abducts the girl from the Chinese mobs. She escapes from the mobsters she is chased by the Russians; by the corrupt detectives from the NYPD; and by the Triads. When Luke sees the girl fleeing from the Russian mobs in the subway, he protects the girl and discovers that the number she had memorized is the combination of a safe where the Triads keep 30 million dollars. Luke is an elite agent and uses his skills to protect the girl.
"Safe" is a great brainless action movie with a messy lead character. The situation of an old boss from the Chinese Triads that does not trust in computers but trusts in the ability of a young girl that has been abducted from her family is stupid. But the lead character Luke Wright is a complete mess: the guy is a killer and elite agent that has his life completely destroyed when he feels sorrow for killing his opponent and irritates the Russian Mafia. Then he passively accepts the death of his wife by the Russian mobsters. But out of the blue, he rekindles his personality to protect a stranger Chinese girl in the subway. This situation is laughable when the viewer sees the past and connections of Luke with the corrupt detectives of the NYPD. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "O Código" ("The Code")
The story rather resembles movies like Man On Fire and Mercury Rising in the sense that it features a gifted child being hunted by villains, with help coming from a lone protector who happens to be pretty impossible to kill. This time it's a young Chinese girl named Mei (Catherine Chan), a mathematical genius taken from her ill mother and sent to America to work as a "counter" for the Triads in New York. Mei is given a seemingly random list of numbers to memorise, but suddenly becomes the target of the Russian Mafia and a team of corrupt cops. It transpires that the numbers contain a code which will unlock a safe containing $30 million and there are plenty willing to kill to get to the fortune. Mei goes on the run, pursued by enemies from all sides who want the information she alone carries. Enter down-and-out bum Luke Wright (Jason Staham), formerly a cop, more recently a cage fighter, whose life has descended into suicidal depths of depression after the murder of his wife. On the verge of putting an end to his misery once and for all, Luke is offered a chance of redemption when he saves Mei from her pursuers. Suddenly he's back in the game he knows best, rampaging through the city with cops, Russian mobsters and Chinese hit men hot on his trail.
The opening twenty minutes or so are a real mess, with some rushed non-chronological plot exposition and the briefest sketching-in of character. Things pick up once Mei and Luke team up to outwit the bad guys, for it is here when Yakin gets to unleash his thunderous action. No-one will come away from the film thinking they've just witnessed something innovative and ground-breaking. Nor will anyone be writing letters of complaint to the Academy when they overlook these performances at the announcement of next year's Oscar nominations. Safe is what it is . a big, dumb action movie for the boys, with a kill-count that Mei herself might have trouble keeping track of, and sufficient mayhem to keep genre addicts happy. Efficient entertainment while it lasts, but you'll have forgotten it by the next day.
Statham stars as Luke Wright, a down-on-his-luck cage fighter who gets caught up in a dangerous situation that leaves him with no will to live any longer. At first he appears to want to give it all up, but a chance encounter with girl with a secret gives him his second calling and he unwittingly becomes her guardian angel. But the two are entangled in a power struggle over the girl's gift. Thus the ride has begun.
Boaz Yakim handles the action and script really well. it's only that some of the dialog that becomes contrived and forced, but that doesn't slow down the film at all. The action scenes are, however, really impressive; showing off Statham's mad skills as an action star and he's really good at being both formidable and vulnerable at the same time. With his steely stare and narrow eyes, he's one mean man you don't want to mess with unless you value your very life. But it's newcomer Catherine Chan that really shines in her first ever feature-film role. With a wide variety of emotions, she is horribly confused and scared at what's unfolding before her very eyes. And Reggie Lee is simply good as the villainous lackey to an ever deliciously evil James Hong as crime boss Hang Jiao.
But even with all that, if the filmmakers stripped it of it's action film hijinks, at it's core is a story of two complete strangers coming to each other's aid. Sadly the film never delivers more on the sentiment between the two characters's personal emotions. There are hints of a developing relationship, but it's overshadowed by the action scenes, which are impressive, undermines the emotional aspect between Luke and Mei. The ending(which I will not spoil) leaves it open to the possibility of a sequel. I really wish to see a follow up to this film because the film has a really fascinating dynamic on which to build on.
But despite all it's problems, Safe is a good action thriller with twists that keep you guessing and action scenes that will marvel you.
The film works as pure action spectacle, with never a flagging moment. Statham growls and spits his dialogue, headbutts bad guys with abandon, and shoots his way through a small army in his attempts to save Chan from harm. It's a bit like THE MAN FROM NOWHERE, eschewing all that film's careful build-up and painstaking plot progression in favour of more breakneck action bits and scenes of Statham throwing guys through windows.
Statham provides a masterclass in thuggery, while the action, refreshingly free of the shaky-cam for once, is masterful and exciting. There are some nice supporting turns from the likes of DRAG ME TO HELL's Reggie Lee as the bad guys, along with former leading man Robert John Burke (DUST DEVIL) nowadays unrecognisable thanks to the ageing progress.
Of course, SAFE will never win awards, and those who don't "get" action films will give it the cold shoulder. On the other hand, those of us who remember the good old days when Van Damme and Seagal were churning out hit after hit will probably enjoy it.
Safe puts actor Jason Statham in familiar territory. He is protecting a young person while driving recklessly, shooting, punching and jumping his way through fast paced and carefully choreographed sequences intended on keeping the interest of 13-year-old boys. Statham has protected young helpless persons before thanks to his Transporter franchise, but here, he scrapes the bottom of the barrel for the worst script and character he has ever played on the big screen.
In Safe, Statham plays Luke Wright, a former cop who has been living on the streets since the Russian mob killed his wife after he failed to win a promotional UFC-style fight. Wright's life is reaching its bottom point when he notices a young Asian girl being followed in a New York City subway station.
We learned earlier that the young Asian named Mei (Catherine Chan) is a super-whiz with numbers that has been kidnapped by the Chinese mob and brought to America intent on having her memorize a sequence of numbers that lead to unknown treasures.
When Luke Wright involves himself in her safety, he becomes absorbed in a cliché driven plot involving corrupt cops, corrupt politicians, the Chinese mob and the Russian mob. All have but one purpose, to gain ownership of the young girl by any means possible and to use the numbers she has memorized to open two safes containing both money and information valuable beyond comprehension.
While all four of the politicians, police and two mobs collapse upon Wright and Wei's whereabouts, our packed theatre of nine paying patrons watched as they shouted, shot and ran amok through the city in a blended mess that comes courtesy of writer/director Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans).
There is so much wrong with Safe that it is hard to get ones head around the convoluted disaster in an attempt to explain in words how to warn other interested parties. Statham is usually consistent, but even he cannot save such an atrocity as this. His action sequences are many, but they are boring and uninspired and l felt the need to shut my eyes and grab a quick nap rather than watch him continue to take on 5-6 heavily armed men at one time and get away unscathed.
Assisting Statham in this bad smelling piece of fromage is the supporting cast. None of the many characters thrust on screen are well developed and the only one that does have any relevance, Mei, is portrayed by a young girl who can't seem to act her way out of a wet fortune cookie. Usually, we are relaxed when it comes to criticizing youth and their attempts in their big screen debuts. But Catherine Chan is terrible as a central character and her bad acting is the largest fly feasting on this pile of sh*t.
To be fair – okay, to be somewhat fair – some of the dialogue expected of Chan was beyond eye-rolling. She has to take direction in how to express such painful lines as "You're a crazy man, yet not that stupid" while Statham tries to catch a breath between bone breaking.
Snores could be heard in our almost vacant theatre and they were loud enough to drown out my own. There isn't many films that I can truly advise to stay away from, but it's safe to say that Safe is one of them.
Jason has impressed us with his exceptional martial arts display and thus of course the story revolves around his physical and mental abilities. This movie sets an example by showcasing that a single man can change the whole game if he gets messed up.
We all understand the pain of losing our love or at least the feeling or fear of losing the ones that we love. This story is about a person who loses everyone that he loves in this world and then finds a person in a similar situation who is a small girl with exceptional intellectual skills. This deadly combination will give you enough to think about, so go watch this one.
My favorite quote from this movie: "One day at a time"
Last time I saw Statham on the big screen was for Killer Elite and I remember walking out incredibly disappointed. At this point I had come to terms not to expect anything but action fun from Statham's movies and I love them for that reason. But Killer Elite even bothered me as being nothing special. So I walked into Safe with moderate expectations and it blew me away. If you have read my previous reviews you know I like comparing films that are similar, so I would have to say this combine elements of James Foley's The Corrupter (rivaling gangs and corruption) and Harold Becker's Mercury Rising (lone cop protecting adolescent with secret information).
Safe follows a former gun for hire, Luke Wright (Statham), living as a lone, homeless man following a run-in with the Russian mafia and is on the verge of suicide until he rescues a 12 year old Chinese girl, Mei (Catherine Chan), on the run from two feuding gangs because she holds the code they desperately need. However, the code goes much deeper than just the rivaling Russian and Chinese gangs and into the corruption of New York City's finest.
After the last couple Statham flicks I knew he was due for a good one. Not only does he kick some serious bad-guy butt in Safe but he actually acts a little bit! There is one scene of a flashback explaining Wright's past with the Russian mafia that showcased some very impressive acting on the behalf of Statham, really cool to finally see it. Catherine Chan was excellent as Mei, she played the perfect damsel in distress without being annoying or plain. I don't know where to begin with the villains. There were so many! James Hong as the Chinese gang leader was effective creepy and intimidating, Reggie Lee added unpredictability to his desperate character as Mei's "father," and Robert John Burke was just awesome as the corrupt Captain Wolf.
Safe definitely revived my faith that Jason Statham could still pick great action movies. The complex story line and series of events made this a very fun ride for action audiences. I give it a 9/10.
It's being a very typical genre flick, that perhaps is only good to watch late at night, on a Saturday evening, or something like that. It's not bad and it's indeed still entertaining enough but at the same time, I just can't call it a very good movie.
Perhaps it's true that I have seen too many movies like this one already but it was disappointing for me that this movie didn't ever played out as anything fresh or surprising. Besides, I had a hard time getting into this movie or feel involved with any of its characters and actions. This is probably due to it that the movie is being a very simplistic one with its story. The good news about this is that it's also being a very straightforward genre movie, with plenty of action to enjoy in it.
This isn't really the case for the first half of the movie though, which is needlessly slow and overlong. The movie definitely got better to watch in its second half, when its action kicked in. No doubt that the first half was meant to get us more involved with its characters and get to known them as well but the movie so easily also could had done this as the movie progressed, with plenty of action going on at the same time. There was no need for the movie really to take such a long time to establish and setup things.
Another thing that I didn't really liked about this movie was how absurd its story could get at times. I mean, the thing with the story is that almost literally everybody is a bad guy in it. The Russians, the Chinese, the cops. It's just a bit too much all and doesn't ever really work out as anything convincing or entertaining enough.
It's also true that Jason Statham is simply being Jason Statham again in this movie. He too often plays the same sort of character now days, which is really disappointing, since I actually quite like him as an actor and believe he has plenty of charisma and range in him as well.
The action still saves this movie from being a total disaster. It's being brought very lively to the screen by some great camera-work and nimble editing. It's watchable enough all but definitely nothing I can consider to be recommendable.
It is one of the best movies of 2012.A must watch movie.Specially if you are a Jason fan just like me.Bindass movie if you want to say in Indian language
This movie was absolutely terrible.
First, terrible American accent (listen to when Statham says "numbers", it drove me crazy).
One of the worst plots I've ever experienced. Also, why does Statham look at the girl out of all the other people in the train station? It doesn't make any sense what so ever.
Hardly any emotion shown when his wife is murdered, I could go on but it would be a waste of energy; I actually fell asleep toward the end of the film.
I was woefully underwhelmed by a lot of aspects to this movie.
That said there are some good points that I'm going to start off making and eventually end on. Like a bad news sandwich. Statham was perfect in his role as Luke, he brought the poorly written and developed character an edge that was borderline heroic in the surroundings of this poorly shot travesty.
Which brings me to my first bad point, the camera-work was nothing less than infuriating. I found myself genuinely angry in every single action sequence, regardless of whether it were a hand to hand fight sequence, a gun battle or a car chase. The shot flicks about more times than you can count and I found myself with absolutely no idea who was dead, who was alive and who was punching who. I understand this is to attempt to create a heightened sense of involvement but it makes them nigh impossible to understand. This is perfectly displayed during the gun battle prior to Statham opening the safe. Every time I saw someone get hit I had no idea who it was. The point where there were breaks in the action I was consciously checking how many of the cops were remaining. I should know at any point in the sequence how many of them are left or there's no tension and I ultimately don't care about what's happening on screen.
I could continue but I'll move on.
There were various plot points that made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. I'll use the aforementioned gun battle as an example to keep spoilers down. The fight itself is moronic, these top police names basically walk into a den of some kind (I think it was a casino but at this late stage I was basically in a coma) and shoot the place up, then walk off with a fat bag of money. Not one of them stops and says "hang on, what if someone asks us what are in these large suspicious bags we're carrying, what if they ask us why we conducted a raid unauthorized, with no backup whatsoever, as 5 of the top cops in the NYPD and 1 ex cop who should be jailed for firearms offenses." As I say this is just one of many examples I could make but once again, I'll cut myself short for the sake of some last hope towards brevity.
I didn't care about any of the characters. The girl isn't on screen enough to make me care about her, and she mostly comes across as a rude, arrogant and unintelligible know it all due to speaking mandarin half the time and generally just being a prick to people holding a gun in her face. Statham, as much as he performed well, was written as the rogue with the heart of gold by someone hemorrhaging from the brain, apparently. The only time this comes across is his inexplicable and borderline paedophilic longing to save an 11 year old girl who he essentially uses for his own means throughout the film. He barely shows any emotion for the loss of his wife and he is almost endlessly killing men (and women who shoot at him) throughout the film without any show of remorse for the removal of human life he perpetually conducts.
I am genuinely struggling to think of a second good point to end on. I was going to say that the film will most likely entertain the majority of the people who watch it. However that's not true, because the action sequences, the only thing that could save this film, are far too vague and unwatchable to entertain the majority of action lovers (I myself enjoy watching martial arts, be it choreographed or not, a great deal). Coupled with the acting essentially being none existent due to the large amount of screen time these tour de forces in bad cinematography eat away and you have a very very boring film.
The opening of the film will disorientate, even with the best of intentions to mirror and parallel its two primary characters of Wright, and the little Chinese girl Mei (Catherine Chan), whose superb mathematical intellect and photographic memory got sought after by gangsters with operations both in China and USA. Blackmailed with her mom's safety, Mei reluctantly lends her talent to the Chinese mob in New York, becoming the quintessential book-keeper without the books, storing every fact and running figure in her brain. As a reward, she is given the task of memorizing a series of boring numbers that points to a mystery of a combination, which forms the crux of the film given everyone's after her, from the cops, the Chinese mob, the Russian mafia to shady politicians. She runs.
Wright on the other hand, is that superhero that Jason Statham plays with aplomb from his days of The Transporter, already having some experience in protecting Chinese lasses. His backstory's like a phone directory that Yakin slowly unravels, that tells of more behind this one time cop with special skills, tying it with guilt complex and desperation in seeking redemption through underground fight rings, only for his one time fight back to kill off an opponent to whom he was supposed to throw a fight to. The Russian mob gets angry, and carries out their vow to make him the loneliest man on Earth. He runs.
But running can only bring you so far, and the time comes when the narrative puts these two runners together. Wright senses something amiss when he chances upon Mei for the first time, and becomes her de-facto protector, finding an opportunity to take some proactive action against all the stakeholders together in one fall swoop. In fact, this scheming, interspersed with rather rote action sequences from car chases, gun play and fist fights, makes Safe a little more interesting than your average action thriller. Yakin sets up the components where distinct interests of each faction becomes commodity that's traded with corrupt cops within NYPD, and to see each of them taken down by Wright using his brains, is more satisfying than those taken out by brawn.
Credit though to the story for not lingering around monologues longer than it should, with deliverance given without remorse, and in very standard bad-guys-get-their-just-desserts fashion without too much fuss. Sometimes too efficiently that Statham, for all his martial arts ability, doesn't quite get anything to do to flex his muscles. There are only a handful of scenes where he does get to punch up some goons, but the climax, set up to expect some serious brawling, turned out to be the most anti-climatic finale fights ever put on screen, though it knocked some logic into its rather illogical set up. Still, for Statham fans, his charismatic presence alone will make you root for his down and out character as he becomes the Transporter, sans flashy car, one more time, with human baggage in tow to protect.
The highlight in Safe though belongs to James Hong as the primary Chinese villain Han Jiao, the godfather of all rackets in Chinatown. Genre fans would recognize him instantly from his Lao Ban days in John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China, and it's good to see that despite going without heavy makeup seen in the mentioned film, he's still very much sprightly and has this villainous charisma going for him, even with limited screen time, split between him and his enforcer type, played by Reggie Lee. I for one would have loved if James Hong had some shared screen time with Jason Statham, and a mano a mano of sorts would probably elevate this film to cult status.
After Jason Statham's weighty and drama driven performance in Killer Elite (2011) he returns to familiar Transporter style force in this action packed tale. Director/writer Boaz Yakin knows how to deliver high-octane action and his lead has perfected high kick and punches in his sleep. Like many on location shot films it makes everything more palatable and the Safe certainly has a budget.
It's violent and bloody, despite being packed with clichés corrupt cops, Russian Mafia and Yakuza it's fresh enough to remain entertaining. Concept wise it is reminiscent of Mercy Rising (1998) but where as Willis' outing failed to deliver the Safe surpasses expectations being a bar above the average action flick. There's a Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars and Last Man Standing play off against each crime syndicate but it all adds to the entertainment.
Notable is the ever reliable James Hong and Anson Mount gives a menacing, memorable performance as Alex. Chris Sarandon as the Mayor deserves a mention along with bent cop Captain Wolf played by Robert John Burke redeeming himself after Robocop 3. Although the relationship between the young girl Mei played adequately by Catherine Chan and Statham's Luke Wright isn't fully explored no doubt to avoid comparisons with Leon (1994) there's enough emotion to make you care for the characters.
Statham is on form and overall the Safe is an engaging entertaining action film worthy of mention.
One thing that takes away from this film is the beginning of the movie. For the first 10-15 minutes, it's very hard to follow exactly what is going on. I thought the writers tried to hard to have a opening scene that caught your attention, and they ended up putting too much stuff in that scene.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable action movie. This is the type of movie I'd watch with all my buddies!