A Jason Statham movie, first and foremost. But Boaz Yakin brings to the table some unexpected visual panache, a few truly great one-liners, and a stronger underlying theme of redemption that gives Statham something to work with as an actor. His character, a down and out former cop turned cagefighter under the thumb of the Russian mob, starts out quite definitively on the bottom. You’re waiting for him to come to life for the first twenty minutes, but until then, he’s a bum. And he should
be, quite frankly. No Transporter-like confidence advantage here. Now that’s a place you can build a story around. So when he eventually fights his way through Triads, Russian mobsters and a gang of crooked cops, it actually means something beyond just the usual “they wronged him, so now they gotta pay”. His rapport with Mei (Catherine Chan), the young Chinese girl who inadvertently saves him from a suicide attempt while being hunted by the bad guys, is a surprising strength for the movie. It came across as a gimmicky action hero/spunky kid sidekick trope in the trailer - and it is to some extent - but the two personalities mesh well. But yeah, okay, the action sequences are where the money’s at, and it shows. All of them are rock solid reasons to watch this if you’re an action fan, but it’s the incredible five minute shootout in a Chinatown gambling den that impressed me the most.