On the Set of 'War' with Jason Statham

Jason Statham Talks About Working with Jet Li

Jason Statham stars as 'Crawford' in War. Photo Credit: Doug Curran, Photo © Lionsgate Films
Jason Statham had just arrived on the set of the action thriller, War, at 9pm, in for a long night of shooting. Pre-wardrobe, the tough guy sat in sweats awaiting his call. Statham plays an FBI agent on the trail of the assassin Rogue.

The Differences in Fighting Styles Between Jason Statham and Jet Li: “In this film it's obviously very different to Jet because it's no good to use martial arts against a master like Jet Li.

I would look stupid. But more to the point, Crawford's like a very sort of angry man. He's very emotional with his action, so it's not so controlled. …He's definitely a more violent person, and it's pretty reckless what he's doing. You know, he shows no mercy.

For me it's great because the past action movies that I've done, it's always, to me, been a little diluted because of the PG rating. My favorite action movies have always been an R. (Laughing) Call me mad, whatever. Not that I'm addicted to violence or anything like that, I just think sometimes if there's a fight that takes place, violence is unavoidable so don’t dilute it. Let's show it in its true form. Phil [Atwell, the director] is particularly keen on having the fights be very real: no wires, no flying around, no exaggerated sort of fancy movements. I think you'll see what we're doing is very realistic, which is great.”

Asked how his fighting style has evolved, Jason Statham said, “It's all relative to the character, you know?

I feel I've only done two action movies, really. The two Transporter movies. The two I've really expressed myself physically. Every other action movie I've felt a part of, I've just been part of an action movie. [They haven’t] been anything that I can really get my teeth into. Since those two, this is the next.

So I feel I've ever only done three sort of what I call challenging physical roles.”

Training for the Fight Scenes; “This is my third movie with Corey [Yuen] so I'm very familiar with what he sort of needs of me. You just do a lot of stretching and a lot of training building up to it. I can do that in my own time. It's when I come here, once he's designed the fight, he has to go to the location and see… He just envisions the whole thing once he's in the location, so it's hard to do any kind of prep work without him coming back with a design idea. The preparation I do before is just with the guys. We start throwing a few kicks on pads, just keep your body moving, get the blood flowing and get the rust out of the joints.”

Jason Statham Analyzes His Character: “I'll tell you as much as I can without giving anything away. He's a cop. He's got a partner. It kind of explains how good a friendship can be and how happy and rosy life is when things are going good. Everyone's so content and strong with everything. Then all of a sudden a train wreck can screw everything up. Sometimes it's a very small mistake that one person makes. You can sometimes wear the guilt of something else that is not necessarily all your fault.

You end up taking all the guilt and putting it on your shoulders to the detriment of your own life and your own sanity. It can [mess] everything up. This is what happens to Crawford. He feels semi-responsible for what happened, if not totally responsible on some level for what happens to his partner and his partner's family.

He's got these demons that just won't go away. He points a finger at this guy Rogue and he will not stop at anything until he catches the man. He thinks that if he can catch this man, then all his problems will be gone. [Spoiler deleted] It's like having one of your own or several of your own family members killed. You want to get the man who pulled the trigger. That's what fuels Crawford's journey throughout this movie.”

Working with Jet Li: “He's a smart guy. He's not some idiot that you found on the street.

He's a complicated [man]. When I say complicated, I don't mean he's ‘interestingly’ complicated. He was the martial arts champion of China when he was like 13 or 14, the men's champion. And you know how many people are over there. So he's significantly gifted. He's a unique individual. Martial arts isn't just about physicality. As he said, it's the spirit and the mind and that breeds - if you keep practicing this kind of thing in your life - that breeds an inner confidence and knowledge on life and people and the world around you. You can't help but listen to the man. He [isn’t] like Tom, Dick and Harry down the street getting drunk. He's an interesting man. And not to ever forget, he's nothing but a very funny guy. He cracks me up all the time. You'd think someone like him is a very serious person, but his sense of humor is the most prevailing characteristic I find of Jet Li. His sense of humor is really switched on.”