Not that previous years didn’t have their fair share of action, but with all due respect to Erik Matti or Tsui Hark or Wu Jing (sorry guys, am absolute non-fan of “The Night Comes For Us” and Timo Tjahjanto`s approach), “Triple Threat” is the film so impatiently expected that the question “Is “Triple Threat” a triple treat?” is more palpable than Tony Jaa`s knee in solar plexus. So – come up to the lab and see what`s on the slab. I see you shiver with antici…
Triple Threat will be released in more than 150 screens on Tuesday, March 19 and on DVD/VOD, March 22, courtesy of WellGo USA
‘Buy This Title
I hope you are in expectation of a narrative that offers nothing too elaborate but is coherent enough to carry the drive, the “archetypal” characters (“really bad guys”, someone from “a f*cking ninja warrior land”…), and own world’s laws of logic and physics. A narrative that gives you good guys running on personal motives and bad guys driven by assignments and money. A narrative that allows Iko Uwais to fight the good guys as well as the bad guys. A narrative that gives you dialogues like “The Indonesians you killed were my people. You killed my wife. This is personal.” Or “- Does it have to be like this? – Well-f*cking it does. We`ll finish it. Right here.” If so, the moment Tony Jaa’s knee hits Iko Uwais’s forearm, you might pretty well go Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.
“Triple Threat” opens with a jungle humanitarian rescue mission that turns out to be a mission to only rescue one person – an old buddy Collins (Scott Adkins), kill anybody who steps in the line of fire and to blow everything else up. As soon as the non-humanitarian nature of the operation is revealed, two men, Thai Payu (Tony Jaa) and Chinese Long Fei (Tiger Chen) are left behind. Little do they know there is one more player in the camp, Indonesian Jaka (Iko Uwais) whose wife is shot in the wake of all the turmoil and who will bring a touch of chaos into whatever is to follow.
Have no worries, “Triple Threat” does not give up on higher motives of fighting organized crime, corruption, and poverty. Smartly, it gives them embodiment in the shape and sound of a billionaire philanthropist`s daughter Xiao Xian (Celina Jade). She comes with an “investment” plan that should put an end to all that and restore if not world, at least local, peace. Obviously, the people making profit from poverty, corruption, and organized crime are not happy and send in a wild bunch of tough guys with big guns, big muscles and some solid fighting skills (we speak of Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White, JeeJa Yanin, Michael Bisping, Dominique Vanderberg or Ron Smoorenburg). Simply put, really bad guys.
Tim Man does pretty good work as the action choreographer, though my heart still beats somewhat faster for Panna Rittikrai, Yayan Ruhian, and Sammo Hung. Unlike Wolf Warrior (meep), “Triple Threat” offers a variety of shoot-outs AND fights: from jungle to the streets and markets, fighting pits, police station, abandoned mansion-like pool club… It is only commendable how the key players keep the action swift, punchy, without the amount of blood that would keep a herd of elephants running. Don`t get me wrong, I am pretty used to seeing blood, I don`t mind it on screen, it just isn`t something I consider a must, especially when it covers lack of staging skills. (Moreover, the film has to conform to several countries of production requirements, including China.)
The fights in “Triple Threat” are staged to be seen; they also show what has become quite rare: long to medium shots, long(ish) takes, no obvious wires, no obvious skipped frames, or multiple angle shots to enhance the velocity or impact of the attack (OK, Tony Jaa has some suspicious kicks). And there is a space for cheesy one-liners: “Less talk. Just die.”
“Triple Threat” let one feel the beat of a heart of an MA fan that makes (some of) his dreams come true. The cast itself is enough to get one excited and cautious at the same time. It stinks after the trends of the recent years in both, Asian and Western production, especially the nostalgia (again, look at the cast). Bad guys being bad, a bad lady in see-through black “comfy” clothes, good guys with personal traumas caused by one clear-cut life event or issue. You can only love it or not give a damn. Mainly, once again it gives space for fighting skills of protagonists who don`t pull a punch. Though, the underuse of female characters and their kick-ass protagonists is largely disappointing and also demonstrates how misleading the Bechdel Test can be – “Triple Threat” passes it.