(In theaters, October 2002) The worldwide hybridization of action films continues (after, say, Kiss Of The Dragon) with this French-written, American-financed, Chinese-directed film. Like most similar attempts at combining different strains of the action genre, this one falls a little bit on its face. For starters, the writing is simply juvenile, jumping from situation to situation without grace or cleverness. The romantic angle is particularly ill-handled, skipping straight -like so many awful films- from flirtation to sweaty sex scenes. (Alas, we see nothing) It’s written by Luc Besson, so don’t be too surprised if it feels a lot like a teenager’s fantasy. The opening scene even segues straight from his Taxi scripts, minus the quirky French lack of polish. The directing (by Hong Kong maven Cory Yuen) is too choppy to be effective, though some fight scenes show a lot of imagination and some shots are a bit nervy. This aside, the best reason to see the film is for lead actor Jason Statham, who here solidifies his potential as an action star. His ex-SAS operative protagonist is one of the most credible action heroes in recent memory, and his showing ought to give Vin Diesel a run for his money. The fight choreography also shows him handling a heck of a lot of martial artistry without stunt doubles. As a confirmed sinophile, I can testify that Shu Qi is cute beyond words as the woefully underwritten love interest/MacGuffin. All in all, a decent action film, but nothing worth bothering unless you’re a Jason Statham fan… and you will be one, eventually.