Cast: Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Tiger Chen, Scott Adkins
Director: Jessie V. Johnson
I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly go out of my way to watch martial arts movies. From what I’ve seen in the past, they seem to be cheesy, over-produced, and generally not something I find appealing as a form of entertainment. With that in mind, Triple Threat may have changed my stance on these movies and may have opened me up to similar-style movies in the future. I know that Uwais is known for his fight choreography and his intense martial arts background, but I was completely blown away by what he and the rest of the cast do here. Still having a slightly cheesy plot, Triple Threat is elevated by its fight scenes and is one of the most entertaining movies of the year.
The film follows Payu (Jaa) and Long Fei (Chen), two mercenaries hired by Devereaux (Michael Jai White) to recapture some prisoners in Thailand. When Devereaux double-crosses the two and leaves them for dead, they team up with Jaka (Uwais), one of the people impacted by Devereaux’s actions to get their revenge and prevent Devereaux and his boss Collins (Adkins) from causing any more harm. I’ve seen some of Uwais’ fight scenes in the past, but nothing prepared me for what he had in store for us in this film. In last year’s Mile 22, his scenes were hyper-edited and lost any sort of natural feeling and seemed to believe that generally audiences couldn’t handle a regular-looking fight scene. In Triple Threat, the fighters have more control over their environment and as a result of that, the film feels far more authentic than anything we usually see. Seeing true masters of their craft duke it out in well-shot, realistic series of brawls makes the movie much more immersive than I was originally expecting. When the promotional materials featured mostly the gun battles and similar combat, I expected that once again these talented performers would be underutilized due to fear of alienating larger audiences. While those scenes are prominent, they never distract from the much better and much more thought out fight scenes. While those scenes carry the film for much of the 96 minute runtime, the plot is the main reason why Triple Threat isn’t an elite movie. It’s very much a general story about betrayal with very obvious villains and impeccable heroes which we have seen countless times in the past. The script is passable, but it isn’t exactly the most memorable one out there and it won’t be known for its unique twists and turns. You know right from the beginning where this film is headed and almost exactly how it will get there. For an action movie that was some very interesting and well-planned scenes and fights, it’s a shame that this level of creativity couldn’t have been evenly distributed to other parts of the film. Triple Threat is right on the edge of being something special, but the lack of any original story really weighs what otherwise was a very impressive action movie.
Overall, I can’t knock the fight scenes in Triple Threat, because let’s be honest, they rule. There are moments in the plot where I think this film is going to break the mold and really separate itself as a great martial arts movie, but unfortunately it never goes the distance. Purely as a piece of entertainment, Triple Threat will captivate most audiences who are interested in similar-style movies and entertainment. For those outside that circle, it’s a solid introduction to a modern undertaking of the martial arts genre and will show people just how hard these performers work to master their craft and deliver a comprehensive final product.
Overall Score: 6.5/10