When it comes to big action films, a sort of coming together of cultures has taken place between East and West, specifically Asia and the U.S. I could point to the Rush Hour series as an example, but that would be a grave mistake. Rush Hour is primarily an American film and as such, abide by American standards of safety. But in Asia, to hell with safety.
Jesse V. Johnson’s Triple Threat is a true blending of the two cultures, employing the East’s blood-fest of mixed martial arts with the West’s high body count from assault weapons and other military-grade armaments. It all comes together for a wonderfully brutal evening of death and violence, plus a story if you’re into that thing.
Triple Threat opens in Indonesia with billionaire heiress Xiao Xian (Celina Jade) about to have an important meeting with a representative of the Chinese Ambassador, Su Feng (Monica Sui-Kei Mok). Xian decided to spend her billions to eradicate a dangerous crime syndicate. What Xian didn’t realize is that crime syndicates do not like being eradicated, and Xian becomes their target.
Taking out the heavily guarded and politically protected Xian is not going to be easy. The syndicate needs its worst killer to stop the threat. That killer is Collins (Scott Adkins) imprisoned in a makeshift Indonesian prison camp, and a mercenary team led by Devereaux (Michael Jai White) and Joey (Michael Bisping) to break him out.
“…employing the East’s blood-fest of mixed martial arts with the West’s high body count from assault weapons…”
Along with the team are local scouts, Long Fei (Tiger Hu Chen) and Jaka (Iko Uwais). They were hired for their knowledge of the jungle terrain and to assist in a “rescue” mission and provide humanitarian aid. They were deceived by Devereaux and Joey, and once the deadly Collins is freed, Long Fei and Jaka are thrown in a cage, only to die as their mercenary companions raze the small village to the ground.
Meanwhile, on the other side is a young, but deadly Payu (Tony Jaa). As the shooting begins, Payu watches in horror as his girlfriend is “fridged” before his eyes in just a matter of seconds. Out for revenge, Payu kills a few members of the mercenary team, but the numbers are just too great. Payu wakes up hours later in the charred remains of the village, only to bury his friends and his girl. Long Fei and Jaka, on the other hand, manage to escape while saving their fellow prisoners. See, they’re really heroes.
It is here three factions form, a triple threat as it were. First, are Collins, Devereaux, and Joey, who now must kill Long Fei and Jaka, because they are the only witnesses to the slaughter. They must also complete the original hit by assassinating Xian. Then there’s Long Fei and Jaka, who becomes partners to protect Xian and stop the mercenaries. Finally, there’s Payu, who’s out for revenge and plans on killing every last mercenary starting with the unwitting Long Fei and Jaka.
At this point, does the story really matter? Similar to watching a porno, we’re here for the action, and there’s a lot of it. The opening raid on the jungle village is an excellent place to start. Explosions, assault rifles, hand-to-hand combat, senseless executions and lots of blood simply sets the stage.
“There’s an especially memorable round-house kick that will make you cry…”
We move next to an underground MMA arena, where Payu seeks vengeance on Long Fei and Jaka in the Octagon. In the end, they become allies…almost, as Payu drugs Long Fei and Jaka and have them arrested. Then we move on to a nice gun battle at the police station. As reality sets, what we’re really watching is a mass shooting taking place for the sake of an action film. Damn reality.
In the end, we have a warehouse standoff. Guns set aside, we’re treated to a grand finale of some of the best real fighters and stunt people in film today. This is real full-contact fighting. None of this miss-by-a-foot fighting crap, we’re going for real contact, real beatdowns, and spitting blood. There’s an especially memorable round-house kick that will make you cry with joy.
Triple Threat is a wonderful showcase for its stars: Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Tiger Chen, Celina Jade, Michael Bisping, Michael Jai White, Scott Adkins. The film boasts a sizeable effects budget too for some nice explosions, blood squirts, and bullet ballet. Sit back, disconnect, and have fun. Even with the lack of an A-List star, Triple Threat finds a way to stand on its own.
Triple Threat (2019) Directed by Jesse V. Johnson. Written by Joey O’Bryan, Paul Staheli. Starring Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Tiger Chen, Celina Jade, Michael Bisping, Michael Jai White, Scott Adkins, Monica Sui-Kei Mok.
7.5 out of 10 stars