Jul 10, 2019
Here’s one of two films I was able to watch in the bunker, especially given the amazing cast, and in particular Iko Uwais. He’s definitely a favorite of mine ever since seeing “The Raid: Redemption” (Episode forthcoming), and the sequel, “The Raid 2” (Episode also forthcoming). For a couple other films, check out “Mile 22” (Episode #232), which has a few stylistic similarities to today’s film, and the incredible and brutal “The Night Comes For Us” (Episode #295). I also can’t wait to see what happens with “Wu Assassins” when it debuts on Netflix.
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Here we go!
Today’s movie is “Triple Threat”, the multi-lingual actioner directed by Jesse V. Johnson, and written for the screen by Joey O’Bryan, Fangjin Song, and Paul Staheli. The film follows Payu (Tony Jaa), Long Fei (Tiger Hu Chen), and Jaka (Iko Uwais), who while meeting under horrible circumstances, must team up to take down an assassination squad intent on murdering a billionaire’s daughter.
And there’s punching. Lots of lots of punching.
In my recent review for “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” (Episode #490), I talked about two kinds of action films I had growing up: alpha-male driven actioners and poorly-dubbed imported Asian martial arts films. I also talked about how the fight choreography of the latter group transformed the films of the former group, advancing the genre as a whole, by combining likeable (and believable) leads using cutting-edge hand-to-hand and weapons-based fight choreography and situations. We expect a lot more from our action heroes than just looking impressive, and we’re willing to forgive sketchy plots as long as the action is worth it. So, if you take three of the top-billing action stars in the business today, and combine them into one film, along with a host of decent supporting actors, you should have high expectations. And while this film is all right, it can’t fulfill those expectations.
If anything, today’s film felt like a throwback to those alpha-male driven actioners of the past, right down to multiple displays of physical intimidation and aggression. The film also makes the same mistake those actioners did in the past: relying on the mere presence of major names to carry poor and overused plots. You can’t just put Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, and Tiger Hu Chen on the screen and call it a day. We need them to have reasons to fight, and then we need to see them fight. A lot. The story doesn’t have to be complicated, nor does it need a lot of useless dialogue. And yet, today’s film has an overly complicated, unnecessarily mysterious, and distracting plot chock full of played out dialogue, most of which eclipse the action scenes.
Speaking of the action scenes, they were all right. I wasn’t a huge fan of the bullet-soaked firefights involving the assassination squad. I don’t want to see how well they can pull triggers. And the hand-to-hand combat was relatively standard, with a few nice sequences, but nothing to justify putting the top three on screen together, not even the final (and wholly expected) two-on-one boss battle. I had resigned myself to “Triple Threat” never being as good as my expectations, but I didn’t expect it feel as underwhelming as it was.
“Triple Threat” is a pretty standard actioner that cannot deliver on the promise, nor fully utilize the talent, of its cast. The film’s overly complicated plot and bad dialogue often get in the way of its mostly decent action. Fans of standard actioners, or any of the cast, should probably check out the film. Everyone else, be ready for ninety minutes of posturing and bullets.
Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
One Movie Punch: 5.0/10
“Triple Threat” (2019) is rated Rand is currently playing on Netflix and Hoopla.