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WAR

About The Production
Set amidst the violence of America's Asian underworld, Lionsgate's WAR is a high-adrenaline action thriller that examines just how far one man is prepared to go to avenge the death of his best friend. Crawford is a fallen FBI agent who is bent on revenge, and the man he wants is Rogue – a killer with a hidden agenda and no loyalties, a ruthless, shadowy assassin who seems to materialize at will, wreak havoc in a few silent seconds, and then disappear again like a ghost…

WAR screenwriters Lee Anthony Smith and Gregory J. Bradley had been long time Jet Li fans and disciples of the Asian-influenced action genre when they created the role of Rogue, and they did so expressly to accommodate their screen idol. Many screenwriters write scripts with particular stars in mind, but in this case, producer Jim Thompson actually managed to get Smith's and Bradley's script to Li, who signed on to play Rogue.

"It's one of those rare occasions where the writers had a vision, they had one guy in mind, and we actually made it happen,” says Thompson. "We got it to the guy that it was intended for, and the movie actually happened with him in the part, which is rare.”

An international film star and world-renowned martial arts master, Jet Li first gained notoriety in Asia as a martial arts competitor. His remarkable success in the field led to his first starring role in Chang Hsin Yen's 1979 film, THE SHAOLIN TEMPLE, which instantly turned Li into a martial arts screen star in Asia. The ensuing years have brought him a worldwide following with the release of such films as FEARLESS, UNLEASHED, HERO, and THE ONE. 

Steven Chasman, who represents Li and acts as one of WAR's producers, says he was surprised by Li's strong endorsement of the WAR's script. "When I first read it I didn't think Jet would be interested because the character is really the antithesis of almost everything he's ever played in a movie. But to my surprise he responded enthusiastically.”

"I've never played this kind of character before,” agrees Li. "I don't know whether he's good or bad. I only know this character, who is very violent, has a reason for doing what he does.”

A devout Buddhist, Li often seeks projects that reflect his philosophical ideals about violence. He admits that he sometimes struggled with Rogue's particular brand of ruthless vengeance. "Even though I don't agree with what this guy does, I had to commit to it,” he says. "When I went to the set, I had to forget I'm Jet Li first and be in that world. Then I'd go back home and think, ‘Oh, why am I doing this?' I'd have to remind myself that the character is not me. It's somebody else.” 

With Li on board for the title role, the producers turned their attention to casting Rogue's nemesis, John Crawford, the police officer who risks everything to exact revenge. "John Crawford is pretty much the driving force of the story,” explains director Philip Atwell. "He's an FBI agent who, in a sense, has kind of gone rogue himself. And he's enlisted himself to find the killer who took out his best friend and his best friend's family.” 

The part of Crawford called for an actor who could handle extreme physical set pieces as well as intense, emotional scenes; with his bulldog intensity and strong onscreen presence, Jason Statham, known for films like CRANK and THE TRANSPORTER, was the ideal candidate. Says Chasman, "He's a great actor who also brings a lot more dimensions to the role than just the physicality. He's got it all." 

Statham signed up immediately for the project, eager to work with Li again after appearing alongside him in 2001s THE ONE. "I never got to fight him on that movie,” he laughs. "Working with Jet Li and doing something with a much deeper storyline, a bit more of a meaningful character for me to play and to actually come head to head with Jet and bash it out was something I was deprived of

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