Studio: Alliance Films
Reviewed by: Jordan C.
I wasn’t expecting a whole hell of a lot from this movie. Nothing against Stratham, he tends to be solid. It’s just the type of director that picks him to star in their films. On top of that, the trailer didn’t do a great job of giving a taste of what we were in for. Somehow it showed too much and not enough at the same time. But the pleasant surprise is that Safe was actually very entertaining.
The plot follows a little girl named Mei stolen from her Mainland China home by Triads. Their intentions aren’t as bad as the conclusion many of us would jump to. She’s a numbers savant with a photographic memory, so the gangsters use her to avoid a paper trail by keeping nothing on paper. When she is entrusted with the code to a sizable fortune, everybody in New York’s underworld targets her. Stratham’s character Luke Wright (if that’s even his real name) takes some serious punishment basically right off the bat but when he sees Mei in need, he finds something to live for. When this movie really gets going, it is a bullet ballet on par with classic John Woo. While action flicks like this can easily be cliché, director Boaz Yakin (Fresh; Remember the Titans) did well to swing it in the other direction once in a while.
When you are using gangs like the Triads and the Russian mob in your film, it is easy to slip into stereotypes when writing dialogue…or even when casting. There were quite a few people of Chinese descent at the screening I attended and you could hear them collectively sigh when James Hong came on screen. His stature, voice, and persona represent a stereotype of Chinese men that Chinese people do not appreciate and do not want to be identified with in the slightest. And the way they play up the Russians was your standard, accepted Hollywood racism as well. It may be something 90% of the genre is guilty of, but the situation made me feel like I should say something about it.
I’m sure Safe will get slept-on but I highly recommend seeing it in the theatre so it’s as loud and in your face as when I saw it.