The main nugget one takes on leaving the cinema after Safe is that Jason Statham's status as one of the world's biggest action heroes can no longer be denied. The badass, bald Briton kicks ass all over the screen, and also certifies himself as one of the world's best action stars.
Safe is in essence the story of two people: a child mathematical genius from China and a washed-up cage fighter. These two lives are combined and forge together over the course of 94 minutes to give the audience an engaging and clever piece of filmmaking.
Ten-year-old prodigy Mei (Chan) is kidnapped by the Triads and sent to the US. There she is used as a counter to ensure the smooth running of illegal business dealings.
Luke Wright (Statham) is a cage fighter struggling to stay afloat financially, who through match fixing gets involved with the Russian mafia.
When Mei is given the numbers for a secret code to memorise, she becomes the target of a new kidnapping attempt, this time by the Russian mafia. They wish to take that code and with it the secrets that it unlocks.
A chance encounter between Mei and Wright in a New York subway station leads to Wright becoming Mei's protector, attempting to keep her safe, as she becomes an object of desire for both international crime syndicates. Throw in a police force seeking to track down the girl, and the bounty that the code reveals, and you have a high casualty, high stake treasure hunt, with NYC as the location.
The plot could have been reduced to hokum but astute direction and screenwriting from Boaz Yakin have delivered a film with a grittiness which spills over onto the screen throughout.
It is rare that there is a flaccid scene or any baggy dialogue present - a rarity in action films of late. A couple of scene-stealing one-liners also help propel Statham's character into king of cool territory.
Chan is superb as Statham's co-star. The newcomer displays poise and grace, complemented by a tough edge that makes her notable as somebody to watch out for in the future.
Two strong central performances go far in carrying any film, and this one is no exception.
The excellent cinematography by Stefan Czapsky, and smooth editing by Frédéric Thoraval, deliver the package in a tight, effective and realistic manner, which are befitting of the fast-paced script.
Yakin must take plenty of credit for crafting this piece of celluloid, but it is interesting to note that the film's producer is Lawrence Bender. The man in question is a producer of merit, with his past productions having garnered 29 Academy Award nominations, including three for Best Picture. With films such as Inglourious Basterds and Pulp Fiction to his name, it seems obvious that he would do a sterling job at delivering a fresh take on the action genre.