In China, the girl Mei is a genius that looks like a computer in numbers. She is abducted by the Chinese Triads and the boss Han Jiao ends Mei to Chinatown, in New York, to help him in the control of his activities. Meanwhile, the fighter Luke Wright has his life destroyed when he wins a fight against the will of the Russian Mafia and accidentally kills his opponent. The Russian mobsters kill his wife and the alcoholic Luke wanders on the streets and hostels with no objective in life. One day, Han Jiao asks Mei to memorize a long number and soon the Russian Mafia abducts the girl from the Chinese mobs. She escapes from the mobsters and is chased by the Russians; by the corrupt detectives from the NYPD; and by the Triads. When Luke sees the girl fleeing from the Russian mobs in the subway, he protects the girl and discovers that the number she had memorized is the combination of a safe where the Triads keep 30 million dollars. Luke is an elite agent and uses his skills to protect the girl.
Mei, a young girl whose memory holds a priceless numerical code, finds herself pursued by the Triads, the Russian mob, and corrupt NYC cops. Coming to her aid is an ex-cage fighter whose life was destroyed by the gangsters on Mei's trail.
We saw this on DVD from our public library.
Jason Statham is Luke Wright, former super cop and now martial arts fighter. He seems to make more money for fixing fights than for actually winning them. This becomes important when he is pitted against a lackluster opponent who went down with one punch, and now the Russian mob is after him for losing their money.
But that is only a part of his problem. While dodging his own detection in the subway, he spots a young Chinese girl, about 10, seemingly hiding to avoid a group of men, who apparently are trying to find her. She gets on the train, four men follow her, and then Luke has to chase down the train and board it in an unconventional manner. Just adds to the action.
The girl is Catherine Chan as Mei . We see her back-story in a flashback, she is a genius back in China, plus she can look at a complicated series of numbers and memorize them. She is taken away and brought to New York where she uses her talents to help the Chinese mob know which gambling operations are solid and which are not. This starts the killing we see, lackluster operators are just executed.
But Mei gets an even bigger assignment, which involves a coded safe combination in a large matrix of numbers. Then she becomes a target of several different groups. Luke takes it upon himself to be her protector. That he has to kill quickly and often is just part of what he has to do. He basically has to deal with three groups, the Chinese mob, the Russian mob, and a small group of corrupt police. All while trying to get to the safe with $30Million.
The movie has an excellent premise, and starts well. But both my wife and I tuned it out about half-way with the non-stop shooting and killing. It is clear, the movie was written and directed to feature the gun battles, which for the most part are done well, but why do movie like this have to feature so much violence? That spoiled it for us. If you're a fan of action thrillers, the name Jason Statham on a movie tells you pretty much all you need to know: there will be a loner good-bad guy hero who gets involved in a complex criminal or espionage scheme, during the course of which trying to rescue someone or doing a necessary job he fights his way through various locations, dispatching an endless series of villains with his bare hands (and sometimes feet and head too) and various weapons, usually ending up doing the action hero equivalent of riding off into the sunset.
Safe follows the formula. The plot here concerns an 11 year old Chinese girl math prodigy who is kidnapped in China by a Triad who want to exploit her amazing ability to remember numbers for their own evil ends; they send her to New York where she draws the additional nefarious attentions of the Russian Mafia and a cabal of corrupt cops, from all of whom she is rescued by guess who.
I thought this was a better than average example of the genre. Catherine Chan does a good job as the child math prodigy, wisely underplaying her role, and the contrasting locales in China and various NYC environments add visual interest. If you're a fan of the genre, I think you'll like this one. If you haven't seen any action thrillers and want to try one out, this one might be a good choice. If you don't care for the genre, you'll probably want to skip it. My three star rating is based on how attractive I think the film would be to a general audience; if you're a fan of the genre, give it four stars.
Advisory: rated R, which I thought was rather surprising, since there's not much sex, language is fairly mild by current standards, and the violence, though pervasive, is not especially gory: as often, there is a certain video game quality to the series of bad guys getting blasted bam-bam-bam. I saw this on the Lion's Gate Region 1 Blu-Ray, which was of very good quality. Though Safe initially seems a little darker and more thoughtful than the British star's previous comic-book escapades in "Death Race," "The Expendables" or the "Transporter" trilogy, it ultimately reverts to testosterone-heavy formula. a5c7b9f00b
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