Triple Threat (2019), directed by Jesse V. Johnson, is a martial arts action thriller. It stars Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Tiger Chen, Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White, Michael Bisping, Ron Smoorenburg, Dominque Vandenberg, Celina Jade, and Jeeja Yanin. The film is in Mandarin and English with English sub-titles.
It’s a film jam-packed with combat fighting and martial arts scenes that will leave you enthralled. The motif of bait-and-switch and double crossing stitches the film into a narrative structure. Basically, it’s a story about good versus evil done in the style of martial arts set in an anonymous Asian country of Maha Jaya. Although the story line may be difficult to follow, it nevertheless comes together in the end. There are elements of truth in the story such as attempted coups instigated by foreign mercenaries.
The film begins with Devereaux (Michael Jai White) and his team preparing to attack a compound in the Maha Jayan jungle. Devereaux has enlisted Payu (Tony Jaa) and Long Fei (Tiger Chen), local mercenaries for hire, on a purported humanitarian rescue mission. The real mission is to extract Collins (Scott Adkins), a real bad-ass and terrorist. Once Collins is free, Devereaux and his team double cross Payu and Long Fei and leave them for dead. During the attack on the camp, Jaka (Iko Uwais), a guard is injured, and his wife (Sile Zhang) is killed. Jaka survives the attack and swears vengeance against the those responsible for the death of his wife and the destruction of the camp.
Later, Jaka locates Payu and Long Fei and enters the ring with Payu in a kick fighting match but loses the fight. Payu and Long Fei take pity on him and take him in. Jaka gets them drunk and than, reports there whereabouts to the police but it’s really a ruse, a plan Jaka has come out with, to draw out Collins. Jaka notifies an underworld figure of their arrest and the message gets passed on to Collins who fears the repercussions. Payu and Long Fei are taken into custody at Central Police Station. Meanwhile, Collins and his team are hired to take out Tian Xiao Xian by Su Feng, a female criminal crime syndicate boss who appears to have masterminded Collins rescue mission. Tian Xiao Xian is a billionaire’s daughter whose mission in life is to give away her wealth for philanthropic causes and fight corruption. Collins and his hired assassins make an attempt on her life at a hotel but fail. Xiao Xian manages to escape aided by Madame Liang, a Chinese Embassy official, and told to go to the Central Police Station for help.
In the ensuing chaos, Jaka ingratiates himself with Collins by helping him avoid arrest and offers himself for hire which Collins reluctantly accepts. Collins and his hired assassins turn their attention on taking out Payu and Long Fei at the Central Police Station. During the attack, Jaka secretly takes out some of the hired assassins and helps Payu, Long Fei and Xiao Xian escape. However, they fail to make it to the Chinese embassy with Collins and his assassins on their tail.
Meanwhile, Payu, Long Fei and Xiao Xian take shelter in a restaurant and hatch a plot over a delicious meal cooked by Payu where they bond. Payu and Long Fei contact Collins to offer up Xiao Xian in exchange for their freedom and $100,000 dollars but it’s really a ploy to take out Collins and his gang of assassins. They arrange a meeting at an abandoned Polo club. Payu enlists the aid of an underworld figure who owes him to supply them with weapons. However, Collins has his own ideas about the arrangement and orchestrates a counter-plot. Collins still does not realize Jaka is working against him although Devereaux has his doubts. The climax which takes place at an abandoned Polo Club is filled with twists and turns and is bursting at the seams with gun battles, hand-to-hand combat and martial arts scenes. If you want to find out what happens to Payu, Long Fei, Jaka and Xian Xiao, well, you’ll have to see the film.
The well-made film suffers somewhat from a complicated story line but it does come together in the end. On the one hand, you learn something of Jaka, Payu, Long Fei and Xian Xiao’s back story which gives their character some depth and complexity but the same attention to detail isn’t extended to Collins or Devereaux, which I find disappointing. I wanted to learn what made them such bad-asses. Collins (Adkins) shines as a bad-ass, and his marital arts skills and animal magnetism light up the screen.
If you are a fan of Chinese martial arts films, you’ll enjoy the film for its well-executed martial art scenes. If you enjoy action thrillers, you’ll enjoy the film for its suspense, bloodshed and violence. If you’re a fan of Rambo style films, you’ll enjoy it too and route for Jaka, the underdog, in his quest for justice using his brawn and brains. I enjoyed the film on many levels and found the subtle subtext of having two powerful women battling it out over an agenda of good versus evil quite intriguing as opposed to seeing two men in these roles. Overall, I liked the film and I hope you do too!
WELL GO USA releases Triple Threat on digital and DVD/Blu-Ray May 14th