Opening 31 May 2012
In this film no one is safe, until perhaps at the very end when Luke Wright (Jason Statham) and Mei (Catherine Chan) flee the city. But for the first 90 minutes we go from Nanjing to New York City where three groups of bad guys fight and maneuver for the upper hand: members of a Chinese triad, Russian mobsters, and corrupt New York policemen. Perhaps the mayor is also corrupt, or maybe he is just stupid. All of them want the contents of a safe, the secret number of which is embedded in the brain of Chinese wonder child Mei, who, with little facial expression, still seems to perceive the danger around her, although she isn’t smart enough to turn off her mobile phone when it counts. Her chance for escape comes with the appearance of Luke, a former agent, now cage fighter (which, if I understand correctly, is a no-holds brawl between two people fighting literally in a ring-like cage, i.e., a primitive version of boxing). In other words, this Luke has sunk far from being a recognized special agent to now holding his own against Neanderthals.
The Russians, the Chinese, and the Americans dress, talk and act like the stereotypes from their respective countries. The fist fights, shoot-outs, car chases down one-way streets, struggles in the subways, running, hiding, threats and broken glass also occur according to the stereotypes of the genre. That doesn’t mean that you won’t be holding your breath (and maybe your ears) in anticipation. After all how can Mei and Luke outwit so many evil forces? Wait and see. Mei is “not five years old” as she complains when Luke treats her like one. She is possibly eight. Memorizing a long code was peanuts, after all it “wasn’t random; there was a sequence and threes and sevens represented left and right.” Of course. Easy.
Boaz Yakin wrote the script and directed. The film with high international action around one lone, high-principled man does not disappoint. Also, the music is excellent: sound editor is Dror Mohar. Filmed in Philadelphia and on location in New York City. Big applause for young Catherine Chan. (Becky Tan)