If you are an action enthusiast like me, then chances are you find enjoyment in martial arts films like The Raid Franchise, Police Story Franchise, John Wick, The Night Comes For Us etc. and many times you may find yourself very forgiving when it comes to certain aspects like the script, story, acting and other film-making choices. The only thing that really needs to work for you is the action sequences. They need to be the center of the movie and they need to be well shot and an entertaining bang for your buck. Over the last few decades a new trend has taken center stage, the direct to DVD action flicks (of which one of the stars, Scott Adkins is very well known for). These feature solid action sequences and not much else when it comes to the list of things I mentioned earlier. They are high octane B-Movies.
Triple Threat is exactly that. But before you feel disappointed in such a statement, it’s important to understand the sentiment. I LOVE these B-Movies, I don’t care about the nonsensical plot or the hammy acting when I watch such films. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t good films. In fact, Triple Threat is certainly far better than most of the films in the B-Movie Action Extravaganza group. The story may be nonsensical, but the writers do try to give our three stars motivation and make these characters likable and charming in their own right (Tony Jaa and Tiger Chen in particular get to show off some comedic chops of their own). What I love so much about Triple Threat is that it cares enough to let these stars shine and allow them to show off their talent without ever becoming too fan-servicy. When you see so many Hollywood Blockbusters that fail to see the talent in these stars (The Expendables, Star Wars The Force Awakens, Mile 22, Fast and Furious 7, etc.) and their abilities, it’s heartwarming to see a film that makes the most of what they can with these incredibly talented performers. Sure the performances can be cringe-y and the English dialogue by its Asian stars aren’t all that convincing but damn, these people try and Iko Uwais in particular has come a long way with his English Speaking skills since The Night Comes For Us.
As for as the other performances go, Scott Adkins and Michael Jai White really get to shine as the villains, they are menacing, in-your-face and physically threatening. Scott Adkins too, has come a long way with his acting chops. He comes across as a mercenary who is on the job and Scott gives it his all when his character gets desperate to finish the assignment given to him. As the big baddie, he probably gets the best fight scenes in the movie too. Again, Hollywood, try and recognize great talent when you see it.
But who cares about all that, how is the action dammit? Well, I am glad to say they don’t disappoint. I will admit, it’s a shame that Iko doesn’t get to have the best fights in the movie, especially considering his background on The Raid films, but with so many action stars, it was inevitable that someone would feel a little left out. Plus, at 90 minutes, the film surprisingly paces itself well enough to never feel too over crowded or convoluted (I have heard other people feel differently, but I didn’t think so). There are 2 big action set pieces, one in a police station around the mid point in the film and one in an abandoned building towards the end of the third act. Both are well choreographed and the gunplay is surprisingly entertaining to watch as well. Sure the set pieces are nowhere near as well constructed as say, the car chase in The Raid 2, but honestly, with the limited budget these guys have, I think its asking way too much out of a VOD film. The action sequences themselves don’t feel cheap and moreover are way more satisfying than many big budget Hollywood blockbusters like The Expendables (with their garbage blue filter and shoddy editing). The camera is wide, the edits are crisp and the punches and kicks feel real. That’s all I care about.
As for major flaws, the editing when our Asian leads speak in English is very noticeable, with most of their English dialogue (with a couple of exceptions) being spoken off-screen. I suspect this was done because the initial take wasn’t all that good, but I really wish this part of the film could have been improved upon. Also the lighting can sometimes feel a little too over-exposed, especially in exterior shots. Other than that, like I said earlier in the review, some of the acting and lines can be a little too cheesy (your mileage may vary, for me that just adds to the charm of it all).
To conclude, if you know what you are going in for, you will have a great time with Triple Threat and I hope you like it. It’s a lot of fun and as an action genre enthusiast, this is the best film I could have possibly hoped for. 7/10
P.S: One other thing I liked about this movie is how they allowed different characters from different backgrounds to speak in their native language in multiple scenes. They expect you to read those subtitles, thank god. So many movies are afraid to do that now.
Review by Manasrai