Herald rating: * * *
Cast: Jet Li, Jason Statham, Devon Aoki
Director: Phillip G. Atwell
Running time: 104 minutes
Rating: R16 (contains violence & offensive language)
Screening: SkyCity, Hoyts and Berkeley cinemas
Whoever decided to release this action flick starring martial arts expert Jet Li on Valentine's Day has a great sense of humour. If you refuse to be dragged to another romantic comedy, want to avoid the subject of love altogether, then Rogue Assassin is a definitely an option on the day of romance.
However, if you are a martial arts fan, be warned the film is a little light on Hong Kong-style martial arts, although it's still packed with fast-paced action, guns, guns and more guns.
Rogue Assassin, released in the United States with the title War, is set in San Francisco, the base of two rival criminal families, the Japanese Yakuza and Chinese Triad. The long-lasting feud between the families escalates into war when a mysterious and independent assassin called Rogue comes back into action and works to pit each side against the other.
With a personal score to settle, Rogue's intentions are put into jeopardy when the bitter and vengeful FBI agent Jack Crawford, head of the Asian Crime Unit, discovers he's back in San Francisco.
Crawford holds Rogue responsible for the assassination of his FBI partner Tom Wynne and his family, and while the FBI doesn't seem to be able to do anything to control the excessive gang violence taking place, Crawford is at least determined to bring Rogue down.
So, imagine roof-top chases, restaurant shoot-outs, hijackings, excessive violence, and the cops always turning up when it's over.
That's pretty much it. You've got to pay attention at the beginning to work out who's who, and although it doesn't sounds like a particularly convoluted idea, first-time feature director Philip G. Atwell (who has made a name for himself shooting hip-hop music videos) sure makes you wish everyone wore name badges.
You'll also have to deal with Statham's annoying raspy voice and arrogant old school, cool cop routine, but Jet Li is still worth watching although it appears that maybe age is slowing him down just a little. Basically, if you're after an action-packed film that makes quite a mess, then this should do the trick.