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When Jason Statham is headlining a movie you know what to expect: violent hand-to-hand combat, tough guys (good and bad) littering the landscape and possibly an attractive woman taking her kit off for a few minutes. If you happen to rent Safe be warned, there is no attractive woman taking her kit off.

Other than that, this is a solid action movie, and I do mean solid. Some of the action scenes are staged to maximize the effect upon a viewer. Talk about putting you in the heart of the action. Boom!

The narrative is simple: Statham plays Luke Wright, a tough guy who fell on hard times, hard enough for him to become a cage fighter who allows bookies to fix his matches. Until the day he makes the wrong choice. Think Butch from Pulp Fiction but way less self-serving.

At some point Luke meets Mei (Catherine Chan) a Chinese wunderkind–wizard with numbers–who is employed by the Chinese mob to keep track of all their businesses without resorting to computers. The situation is bad for both Luke and Mei. Until it gets worse.

Suddenly she is on the run and everyone is searching for her. This means Chinese and Russian mobsters as well as a small group of dangerous and crooked cops. Mei’s only hope is Luke.

Lucky for her, the guy who looks like a bum is actually a badass killing machine.

I have to admit I was expecting nothing of Safe. Mr. Statham’s higher profile jobs have tended to disappoint so I really had no hope for a movie that came and went, and made back just about half of its budget at the US box office earlier this year. But Jason Statham films always pique my curiosity so I decided to check this one out.

Good thing too because Safe plays it anything but. Writer/director Boaz Yakin really has a solid grip on the filmmaking. The movie never slacks, the action is unrelenting, and I couldn’t help wondering what the final body count must have been because people keep dropping like flies in this one.

As far as performances go Mr. Statham seems to have lost none of his speed or agility in the action sequences. Ms. Chan is simultaneously defenseless, and strong—which is what her role demands. It is always impressive to watch someone so young deliver on those expectations.

What is also impressive about Safe is that it plays out like a good example of the screenwriting basics: make your leading man flawed (so your audiences can root for him); give him a goal (so that audiences know what he is after); set a deadline (so audiences can keep track of where they are in the movie). These elements are all present and accounted for in Safe, and the movie actually moves, thus ensuring that we are never bored. Also the screenwriting and editing is skillful enough that we are introduced to facts about Luke’s life as well as the true nature of the numbers Mei is asked to memorize only when the time is right.

As modern action movies go Safe did a very good job of keeping me entertained.

To buy the film on DVD, click here.