Its 2:22 am
The cheetah and I were listening to our neigbbors set off fireworks like crazy this week.
Of course you would think that Paladin would be shaken by all the fireworks but he wasn’t phased at all,in fact he enjoyed some treats while looking outside his window.
I thought he was pretty bad ass about it and it got me thinking that it had been a while since we have watched and reviewed a action-adventure martial arts film and when I suggested “Triple Threat”,the cheetah raced to his chair.
“Triple Threat” opens up with a group of highly trained soldiers led by the mysterious Devereaux (Michael Jai White) on a mercy mission in Thailand. Among the troops with Devereaux are Payu (Tony Jaa) and Long Fei (Tiger Chen) who are there to provide extra security. What Payu and Long Fei don’t know is Devereaux and his cronies have a different agenda and that is to free the terrorist mercenary Collins (Scott Adkins) who is being held by the British in the camp.
The mission erupts in a horrific gunfight and one of the soldiers protecting the camp is Jaka (Iko Uwais) who has brought along his wife. Of course Jaka’s wife is killed and he goes out for revenge and kills several of Devereaux’s men before coming face to face with Long Fei and the two men fight before being separated by an explosion in which it looks like Jaka has been killed.
Long Fei manages to meet up with Payu and Devereaux only to discover what Devereaux is really up too….freeing Collins and making it seem like a group renegades have attacked the camp and killed everyone,including a group of men and women Devereaux has looked up. When Payu and Long Fei object,they are pistoled whipped and left to die in the camp but the two men free the captives and themselves and barely manage to escape.
A few days later,we see that heiress Xiao Xian (Celina Jade) is coming to Thailand to donate a large amount of cash and resources in an attempt to break up the various crime cartel hurting the city. The local crime bosses don’t like that idea and hire Collins and Devereaux to kidnap her.
Meanwhile Long Fei and Payu are fighting in a underground fight ring to rebuild their funds as they want to take the fight back to the men who betrayed them. Payu wins a tougher then expected fight but Long Fei is surprised to see the man he had fought at the camp facing him. The two men fight as Jaka tells Fei his wife was killed in the attack. Jaka is also still wounded from the camp fight and Fei is able to stop him but doesn’t hurt him. Payu and Fei take Jaka back to their room where they treat his wounds and tells Jaka their side of the story. The men look to bond over a night of drinking except Jaka hasn’t been drinking at all,he has tricked Payu and Fei and worse yet,he has called the cops who arrest the two for illegally fighting.
As the two men are chilling in jail,Xiao Xian is on a local TV program detailing her plan to help the city break up the cartels. Collins and Devereaux along with their squad (you thought I was going to say “crew”,didn’t you?) are waiting for her to come outside where they ambush her security team. Xiao runs to the local police station but seeing the Thai police don’t speak Chinese,she can’t tell them what has happen and more importantly,what is coming as the police station is attacked and just about every cop is killed.
Payu and Fei escape and grab Xiao Xian and attempt to get her to safety only to run run into some “old friends”. Just as it seems all is lost,Jaka pops up to help and shares his reasons why he did what he did.
It turns out that Jaka has a cunning plan but only Payu has the skills to pull it off as the two groups race to a brutal final fight in an abandoned warehouse……
I had very high hopes for “Triple Threat” as director Jesse V. Johnson has proven to be an excellent action director. We have reviewed two of his earlier films in “The Fifth Commandment” and “Accident Man” and enjoyed them very much.
On paper,this looks to be an outstanding cast with Tony Jaa,Adkins,Tiger Chen,Iko Uwais,MMA fighter Michael Bisping and of course Michael Jai White,this is a action film buff’s dream casting,right? Well it would have IF there had been a real story with more depth then a comic strip. All the characters are paper thin and the story has so many holes,you wonder if the cast hadn’t kicked holes in the script before giving it to Johnson.
My biggest problem in “Triple Threat” other then a thin plot are the fight scenes themselves. I found myself watching all three of our heroes just get plastered by the bad trio of Adkins,Bispring and White. All three heavies had noticable size differences and it showed in the fights. They had the upper hand as Jaa took on Adkins,Uwais battled White and Chen took on Bispring. Now most fans of martial arts films will tell you they want a hand to hand fight to either submission or to the death. It proves who is the superior fighter is but in “Triple Threat” we don’t see that,we see all three heavies go via gunplay,knives and staircase railing (okay,that WAS sort of cool).
I’m not too versed with Uwais,who did the two “Raid” classics or Chen who battles Keanu Reeves in “Man of Tai Chi” but I know Jaa and I think he would have kicked Collins nose to nose in his fight. And its not about ego either as Adkins and White have many times over that they aren’t afraid of taking a beating for the sake of the film and they are very generous in doing so. I feel this is what makes White and Adkins so popular today. Jaa,Uwais and Chen make a great team and while I would love to see these characters team up again….I just don’t know who they could fight that would be their equal other then Jing Wu.
Coming off a thin script and a subpar final fight scene really dampened “Triple Threat” for me,its still a good film and worth picking up but the potential for great greatness just wasn’t taken advantage of.
“Triple Threat” is rated “R” and has a run time of 90 minutes. It includes a 10 minute interview session with the cast in the special features.
The cheetah and I gave “Triple Threat” two thumbs ups.
Who is your favorite martial artist working today? Drop a comment below.