Director: Jesse V. Johnson
Writers: Joey O’Bryan, Fangjin Song (Writer)
Stars: Tony Jaa, Tiger Hu Chen, Iko Uwais
I suppose you could call Triple Threat an all-star, East vs. West clash of titans.
In one corner, you’ve got Asian martial arts superstars Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, and Tiger Chen, none of them strangers to the genre. In the other, there’s Westerners Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White and Michael Bisping. Adkins & White are legends of direct-to-video action, while Bisping is a former UFC champion.
If that collection of names doesn’t excite you, you’re obviously reading the wrong review.
For everyone else, Triple Threat is a blood-soaked brawl with a plot thrown in because most movies require them. Fortunately, director Jesse V. Johnson wisely keeps the story simple, lest it intrudes too much on the action. For the record, though, Jaa & Uwais play Payu & Long, two mercenaries duped into helping a crew of baddies release their boss, a notorious terrorist named Collins (Adkins), being held in a Thai village. After the mission, they are left-for-dead, as is lone surviving villager, Jaka (Iko Uwais), who now wants to avenge his wife’s murder. The three forms an uneasy alliance to track down these killers, whose next target is Tian (Celina Jade), a philanthropist using her wealth to stop organized crime in her country.
Much of the movie is a chase, with Payui & Long protecting Tian while Jaka infiltrates Collins’ crew (which includes White and Bisping). Though the film takes an occasional breather for necessary exposition, it’s mostly one elaborate action set-piece after another. There’s martial arts o’ plenty, of course, as well as ample amounts of bullets and blood. And if you’ve ever wondered what being shot point-blank by a grenade launcher looks like, this is the movie for you.
If not, why are you still reading?
Though the film is fairly light on characterisation, the performances are good. When they aren’t snapping limbs, the three protagonists are congenially likeable and empathetic. Both Adkins and White look like they’re having a great time tearing things up, relishing their roles as villains. On the other hand, Jade can only do so much with her thankless role as “the woman in jeopardy” (including an eye-rolling scene where she’s hampered by high heels).
While not in the same league as The Raid (what is?), Triple Threat wisely takes the similar path with its story telling: Keep it simple, keep it moving and keep it intense. The film doesn’t necessarily challenge the intellect, but it seldom descends into stupidity, either. Ultimately, this East vs. West showdown is a feast for action lovers.