SAFE (2012)

Director: Boaz Yakin

Writers: Boaz Yakin

Cast: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Chris Sarandon, James Hong, Anson Mount, Reggie Lee, Robert John Burke...

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): R for strong violence throughout and for language.

Runtime: 94 minutes

Genres: Action/Crime/Thriller

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

Mei (Catherine Chan), a young Chinese girl, becomes the possesion of a Chinese crime lord because of her math skills. She is able to memorize and recall vast numerical sequences. He exploits this skill in order to avoid having to write down his illegal business dealings and a complex numerical code. Things quickly deteriorate when Mei is kidnapped by Russian mobsters (who manage to lose her after kidnapping her). As the movie continues, Mei is being pursued by the Triads (who want her back — alive or dead), the Russian mobsters (who want her back alive), and numerous corrupt cops and corrupt officials (who don't really know why they want her, except that since everyone else wants her, they do too).

Mei's plight attracts the attention of Luke Wright (Jason Statham) a down-on-his-luck former cage fighter with a shady past. Luke decides to protect Mei from all of her pursuers. The two bond out of a desire to stay alive while most of the city is trying to hunt them down.

I didn't expect to like this movie. The only other Jason Statham movie I've seen is Transporter. Transporter was okay, in my opinion, but I wasn't sure what to expect from Safe. The advertising didn't really do the film justice. Things sounded way too complicated for an action/crime/thriller. Some guy (our action hero) is trying to protect a young Chinese girl who has memorized the Chinese gangster's business dealings and a special number — "It's long and boring," she says. Everyone wants her — or more specifically, the number. Triads, Russians, corrupt cops. Who isn't chasing this girl?!?

I do like Statham's direct fighting style so I decided to take a chance on the movie. To my surprise, everything worked out. Safe has lots of action and interesting fight scenes. Both the choreography and filming add to the visual appeal. There's also lots of shooting. I think almost everyone in the movie was shooting or getting shot, or both.

As I said, I hadn't expected to like the movie, but I did. I returned my rental copy and immediately ordered my own Blu-ray copy. I've since viewed the movie four more times and enjoyed each viewing.

Safe has gangsters, robbery, fraud, gang warfare, government corruption, and plenty of action. It all fits together nicely. The action doesn't overwhelm the story and the rather complicated storyline doesn't bog down the action.

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