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Here is the plot: A second-rate cage fighter on the mixed martial arts circuit, Luke Wright lives a numbing life of routine beatings and chump change…until the day he blows a rigged fight.
Wanting to make an example of him, the Russian Mafia murders his family and banishes him from his life forever, leaving Luke to wander the streets of New York destitute, haunted by guilt, and tormented by the knowledge that he will always be watched, and anyone he develops a relationship with will also be killed.
But when he witnesses a frightened twelve-year-old Chinese girl, Mei, being pursued by the same gangsters who killed his wife, Luke impulsively jumps to action…and straight into the heart of a deadly high-stakes war. Mei, he discovers, is no ordinary girl, but an orphaned math prodigy forced to work for the Triads as a “counter.” He discovers she holds in her memory a priceless numerical code that the Triads, the Russian mob and a corrupt faction of the NYPD will kill for.
Realizing he’s the only person Mei can trust, Luke tears a swath through the city’s brutal underworld to save an innocent girl’s life…and perhaps even redeem his own.
On the run from the Triads and the Russian mob, modern legend Jason Statham’s character Luke reaches out to his old boss and nemesis, NYPD Police Captain Wolf, played by Robert John Burke. Wolf, however, has his own interests in mind. “Captain Wolf is Captain Nefarious, really,” chuckles Burke. “Wolf doesn’t feel he’s gotten his due. His City Police check isn’t cutting it any longer so he’s going do whatever it takes to supplement it. He cleverly plays one side against the other until Luke gets the last word.”
Burke raves about his experience working with Statham. “He’s a consummate professional – smart, funny, sharp, creative, hard-working, and does not settle for mediocrity. He is gifted and extremely generous. He brings more energy to a scene than any ten actors put together.”
Another gem in the supporting cast is veteran stage and film actor Chris Sarandon as corrupt Mayor Tramello, who holds the classified information for which the Triads are willing to pay $30 million in cash. “Chris has done so much great work in his career,” says writer and director Boaz Yakin. “This film’s inspirations are definitely ‘The Seven-Ups’ and ‘The French Connection’, and Chris did some great work in a few of those movies. So I liked bringing his energy to the film.”
With the cast in place, the filmmakers began to tackle all of the logistical challenges that Yakin’s action-packed script posed to the production. Recalls Lawrence Bender, producer, “As we started to work together, it became clear that Boaz had some really original ideas about the action. His storyboards were amazing.”
In an effort to give the film a unique feel, Yakin chose to film most of the choreographed action in long takes rather than resorting to edits to create action effects. Recalls Statham, “It’s a very difficult thing to do because there are so many elements that can go wrong. But Boaz had the tenacity to get it right and it was just brilliant. Some of the sequences that we did were quite lengthy.”
Yakin relied heavily on the expertise of stunt coordinators Chad Stahelksi, Brad Martin and J.J. “Loco” Perry from the company, 8711 Action Design. Says Yakin, “They came up with new and different ways of doing things that really worked and were unexpected. They would go off and shoot test scenes and pre-visualizations and take our ideas and bring them to another level. The collaboration was fantastic. The action is really good. I don’t think there’s anyone better at it than they are.”
Statham, who is certainly no stranger to action filmmaking, agrees. “Chad, J.J. and Brad all come with such amazing experience. They know what they’re doing and have spent years going through every type of martial art, every aspect of choreography, all the dangerous stunts. They live and breathe what they do. Working alongside them was very inspiring.”
‘Safe’ is available in theaters on April 27.
Image Courtesy of SAFE