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Blu-ray Review: War

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Jet Li and Jason Statham are plastered on the front and inside cover of War facing off with each other. It’s supposed to be an action epic, something as big as King Kong vs. Godzilla. It’s not, and it’s borderline unwatchable for most its running time.

The ludicrous depiction of the FBI and dueling Japanese mafia groups aims for no sense of plausibility. The viewer is taken out of the action early, with a nearly hour-long set-up prior to any major action scenes. War is dull, and the tired gunfights have been done before only without the jerky editing that makes it difficult to see what’s going on.

Statham and Li handle their roles as expected, while the supporting cast falters. Devon Aoki is especially awful in her brief screen time. The script offers little for anyone to latch onto or become excited over.

The twists and turns as Li’s assassin character switches sides at random are jarring. The final plot twist, meant to shock and surprise audiences, is beyond ludicrous. The concept is there, but the logic to follow it isn’t.

When the action comes, it runs for nearly the final 40 minutes. Audiences are graced with a brief motorcycle chase, nicely directed car chase, sword fight, and the inevitable showdown between Statham and Li. War barely delivers on any of these accounts, and the fight audiences went to see is brief and, like much of the action, difficult to make out. Blood spews constantly from wounds, and War never shies away from showing the results of its carnage.

There are better efforts from both of the action stars here, and their first face-to-face goes off with constant hitches to grind this one to a halt. Dull and uninspired are the only adjectives that come to mind for War. The disappointment far outweighs the movie's grand potential for excitement.

War delivers on every level for Blu-ray. Video is clear, sharp, and immensely detailed. Black levels deliver in terms of depth, and the print is clean. Minor film grain is acceptable. Compression artifacts remain hidden throughout. The nighttime car chase is a phenomenal showpiece for any HD set.

One of the few discs to offer an uncompressed 7.1 PCM track, War is one for the die-hard audiophiles looking to show off their equipment. The 5.1 EX mix delivers as well when the action kicks in. The motorcycle chase is an impressive piece of sound work, with the vehicles constantly weaving through the sound field. Bullets ricochet off objects, and are fired from all angles. The disc lacks some subtle work during non-intensive scenes, but this is one to watch for the action anyway.

A “visual commentary” from director Phillip G. Atwell leads the extras, though would not work properly on the BDP-1200 the disc was reviewed on. This is followed up with a standard audio commentary from the two writers. A trivia track runs along with the film if you wish as well.

Scoring War is an extended look (8:55) at how the soundtrack came together. A short gag reel extensively features Jet Li having all kinds of problems on set. The War Chest offers nine different featurettes that can be viewed separately, or take you out of the movie to discuss how the scene you’re watching was done.

Two deleted scenes and an extended one add little to the film. As with the visual commentary, the interactive Yakuza Fighter game would not work, and locked up the player, requiring a restart.

According to the commentary, the $287,000 Spyker C8 which Jet Li drives during the chase was crashed during the shoot. It was a minor rear end incident, but one can only imagine the hush that feel over the crew when something that expensive comes anywhere near taking damage.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.