Director: Boaz Yakin
Cast: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Robert John Burke, James Hong, Reggie Lee, Chris Sarandon
Plot: A young Chinese girl who is a math genius has a very important number in her memory, and is wanted by the Chinese triads, Russian mobsters and a group of corrupt cops. Her only hope is Luke Wright, an ex-cop and former MMA fighter who takes it upon himself to protect her.
Review: The trick in enjoying a Jason Statham film is to forget everything else and let the man kick ass. It's true, and you're gonna have to do that to enjoy Safe.
Writer/director Boaz Yakin sets his story in the seedier side of New York, where the Chinese and Russian mobs' presence are plain and obvious. This kinda reminded me of The Corruptor starring Chow Yun Fat and Mark Wahlberg, except that film was a lot bolder. Anyway, Yakin's story puts Statham right in the middle of a tense situation involving a Chinese girl named Mei, who has a number in her head. A number that will lead the mobs to a huge amount of money.
Statham's character Luke is painted by Yakin as a broken man, whose life was destroyed by the Russians when they killed his wife and threatened the lives of anyone he gets close to. As luck would have it, Luke runs into Mei and sees an opportunity to do right by her and get some payback on the bad guys, which also includes the corrupt cops he used to work with.
Statham once again plays a hero with a shady past, one that is more personal than his previous roles. He even sheds a tear at one point, but make no mistake: Statham is more of an action star than an actor, so I still didn't really buy into his ability to be dramatic. But watching him kick ass is always fun, so I have no complaints in that department. Catherine Chan, who is in her first full length film, does well as Mei and works surprisingly effective opposite Statham. Staple Chinese villain actors James Hong and Reggie Lee appear here as the triads, doing what is expected of them in a film like this. Fright Night actor Chris Sarandon fits nicely into the role of the corrupt Mayor.
As far as action films go, Safe is more towards being decent than awesome. It's nice to see Statham take five guys down with his limbs, always fun. But the problem is Yakin's storytelling methods, starting with the first 20 minutes or so when he explains the situation using multiple flashbacks involving Mei and Luke, which can get rather confusing if you're not paying attention. Then in the second half of the film, he chooses to put Statham in the centre of the plot and leave Mei out of it, which I found rather strange. The ending itself is anticlimactic, I was expecting more action instead of a showdown that doesn't quite happen.
Thankfully, the one thing I can take away from Safe is the violence. Statham punches, kicks, stabs and shoots his way through the bad guys in bloody fashion. And we all know that the more violent it is, the more fun and believable it feels. Like I said, forget the plot and enjoy the action.
Overall, it's slightly above average. Not one of Statham's best, but watchable nonetheless. (3/5)