Main cast: Tony Jaa (Payu), Iko Uwais (Jaka), Tiger Chen (Long Fei), Scott Adkins (Collins), Michael Jai White (Devereaux), Michael Bisping (Joey), Celina Jade (Tian Xiao Xian), Jeeja Yanin (Mook), Ron Smoorenburg (Steiner), Dominique Vandenberg (Dom), Monica Siu-Kei Mok (Su Feng), and Jennifer Qi Jun Yang (Madame Liang)
Director: Jesse V Johnson
Triple Threat is a movie that needs to be watched with subtitles switched on if you are not from Southeast Asia, as aside from English, the languages used here include Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, and Mandarin. The title refers to the fact that we have three heroes here. Payu uses Muay Thai, Jaka is all about silat, and Long Fei is, of course, the kung-fu dude. They are up against the classic villain tropes in this kind of movies: the white dude.
Okay, the story. We have Payu and Long Fei, two mercenaries, who are hired by Deveraux on what seems like a mission to save prisoners held in Thailand by the local insurrectionists. Our two heroes are soon quickly betrayed by their employer, as the real mission is to release Collins, a terrorist. In the resulting carnage, Jaka’s wife is killed and he vows vengeance for his wife and all the other villages that got killed. Payu and Lei Fong barely escape with their lives too, and Jaka apparently blames them for the mass killing.
He tracks the two men down in Maha Jaya, which appears to be the most fashionable hive of corruption and villainy in this part of the world. Payu and Long Fei only want to do some illegal boxing thing, and Jaka naturally takes part to confront those two as well. Meanwhile, Tian Xiao Xian arrives from China with the intention of donating a lot of money to charities as well as the law enforcement agencies (so that they can weed out crime in the place better), which makes her the natural target of Collins’s men, who are under orders from Su Feng, the crime boss lady of the neighborhood, to get rid of the annoying do-gooder.
Don’t worry if you can’t keep track of the twists and turns, because this is an old-school martial arts movie that operates on hit first, everything else is secondary. I like the current trend of having dangerous women running wild in these newer crop of Asian-centric martial arts movie, and this one has several female characters both on the front lines as well as in positions of power. Even Xiao Xian gets to do some kick-ass stuff now and then.
The main stars however are the men. Scott Adkins’s acting, as usual, is on the questionable side – hence, he is right at home in this movie – but that body is still magnificent to look at even when it’s all grimy and such. The other leading gentlemen aren’t too bad either, but sadly, they don’t show that much skin. Meanwhile, brace yourselves for questionable English mastery from most of the Asian cast. Celina Jade’s English is, of course, easy on the ears, but the others can make the movie sound a little too much like a read-along session in an English as second language class sometimes.
But who cares about that, right? Everyone tunes in for the action and… well, that’s my biggest beef with Triple Threat. As much as the marketing materials hype up the martial arts aspect of this movie, there are more guns than fists and kicks here. I was expecting something more of an old-school knockdown film, so I have to adjust my expectations considerably when the folks in this movie go bang-bang-bang far more often than smack-smack-smack. Oh, and Michael Jai White is wasted in his non-role here.
Nonetheless, the whole thing is well put together for something of its budget. The body count is appropriately high, and lots of things go boom, like this is the 1980s and everyone is making cheap B-grade movies in the Philippines again. A part of me has had fun, but another part of me will always wonder why bring all these martial artists only to make them shoot guns more often instead. One more thing: the guys keep their shirts on for way too much of the movie too.
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