Triple Threat – review (Netflix)

Billionaire’s daughter, Xiao Xian (Celine Jade) is in Maha Jaya promising to use her inherited wealth to help bring down organised crime in China. In the jungle, a band of mercenaries, led by Devereaux (Michael Jai White) are tasked with freeing Collins (Scott Adkins), another mercenary for hire been held in an Indonesian military camp, hidden within a village.

Amongst the band of mercenaries, besides Devereaux’s close associate Joey (Michael Bisping), are Payu (Tony Jaa) and Long Fei (Tiger Hu Chen), two friends and local mercenaries for hire brought along for their knowledge of the region. They believe they are on a humanitarian mission to free fellow countrymen.

When the mercenaries attack the village, Jaka (Iwo Uwais), who lives in the village with his wife (Sile Zhang), is awoken by the gunfire. As bullets riddle every building and hut, she is killed, dying in his arms. Jaka goes out to try and confront the mercenaries but is beaten unconscious by one of them.

Devereaux and his men go to find Collins. Payu asks where the women and children are, Devereaux does not answer. They free Collins and leave. Jaka regains consciousness and finds everyone in his village dead and the homes burned to the ground.

Jaka wants revenge. After burying his wife and the other villagers, he goes to Maha Jaya. He finds Payu and Long Fei at an underground fight club. They are both excellent fighters and so gamble on their ability to earn some money.

Payu beats his opponent, helping Long Fei to win his bet. Jaka pays so he can fight Long Fei. He tells Long Fei who he is and says he wants to kill him. Long Fei beats him. Pays and Long Fei take him to their home and nurse him back to health.

We’re mercenaries! Hence the big guns and stuff…

They tell him that they did not know what the mission was and that they were double-crossed and left to die. Jaka makes his peace with them and encourages them to drink to show solidarity. They wake up the next day and he is gone. Jaka has informed the police of their whereabouts and both the men get arrested.

Collins, now in charge, is waiting, with his crew, for Xian to come out of an interview. Jaka calls him and tells him that Payu and Long Fei are alive and have been arrested. Collins and this crew try to kill Xian as she exits the interview. Xian’s bodyguard, Liang (Jennifer Qi Jun Yang) tells her to get to the police station.

Collins and his crew hit the police station, killing all of the officers as they look for Payu and Long Fei, not realising that Xian is also in the station. When they find out she is in the station, Payu and Long Fei help her to escape. Whilst in the station, Collins loses half of his crew, only Devereaux and Joey are left alive.

They chase Xian, Payu and Long Fei through the streets of Maha Jaya. A policeman stops Collins and Jaka disarms the policeman and knocks him unconscious, allowing himself to get closer to Collins and his crew. He tells Colins that he is after Payu and Long Fei.

Xian, Payu, and Long Fei manage to evade capture and lay low for the night. They come up with a plan. They will use Xian as bait to bring Collins and his crew out. Collins egress to meet with them. He does not plan to honour their agreement, instead, planning to kill them all.

Payu also has a plan. They meet at the appointed place and time. Payu takes out the extra men that Collins’ has hired to ambush them. A gunfight ensues. Jaka shows his true colours and ends up fighting Devereaux. Long Fei fights Joey. Payu and Collins have a running gun battle.

Jaka, who had been holding his own against the far bigger Devereaux, begins to take a beating. Joey and Long Fei keep fighting, Long Fei knocking him unconscious with a breeze block. He goes to help Jaka, who is being choked to death by Devereaux. Devereaux knocks Long Fei unconscious but Jaka kicks him on to a spike, killing him.

Collins and Payu are both out of bullets and begin to fight hand-to-hand. Jaka comes to help Payu. Collins holds his own against both of them. He hands out beatdown on both of them.

Collins goes to kill Xian. Long Fei, regaining consciousness, dives in front of the bullet. Payu comes back and hands Collins a beating. Collins pulls a knife, but Payu stabs him with it, plus his own dagger, killing him.

Joey comes back and grabs a gun, trying to kill all three of them. Xian shoots him dead. The police come, called by Jaka, and collect them. They arrest the person behind it all, Su Feng (Monica Siu-Kei Mok). The end.

Take that! And that!

Triple Threat is brilliant, entertaining, nonsense. With a couple A-list martial arts stars in Iwais and Jaa, and a couple of B-list stars in Jai White and Atkins, plus the semi-retired mixed martial arts star Bisping in the cast, this film was always going to be action first and story second, and so it proves.

With Jai White and Adkins in the roles of villains, roles that suit their limited acting abilities far more than leading man roles, both embrace their parts, along with a quite impressive Bisping, as snarling, mean mercenaries.

The story is so convoluted and silly, with Adkins’ Collins only being imprisoned in the middle of a village so as Jaa’s wife can get killed; a whole village died for a plot point.

Iwais’ Payu and Chen’s Long Fei are not perturbed by their mercenary friends mowing down an entire village to apparently free a few women and children and do not twig that something might be amiss until they find that they are only there for one person.

Not that they do anything about it. They would have been happy to carry on with their lives, lives that the same mercenary crew they had been an unwitting part of tried to end. Had it not been for Jaka, they would have probably just put it down to experience and hope to never accidentally run into them again.

Written by Joey O’Bryan, Fangjin Song and Paul Staheli, Triple Threat, as I have mentioned, is weak on story and cohesion. Directed by Jesse V Johnson however, it is big on action, as one would expect. The fight scenes are kinetic and with the talent on show, brilliantly fluid and inventive.

Adkins, who is always good value for money as long as there is fighting, has great fun spitting out his lines and snarling up the screen, whilst Jai White and Bisping, both big, physical units, bring a certain amount of menace.

For anyone into fighting or who has an appreciation of the martial arts, Iwais, Jaa, and Chen are a joy to watch, all three highly proficient in their chosen styles. At 97 minutes long, Triple Threat zips through its runtime, the action carrying the silly story easily.

If you enjoy a good actioner and can ignore the massive plot holes and silliness—these mercenaries, ex-soldiers, are possibly the worse shots in history, managing to miss their intended target from mere metres—Triple Threat is a blast for an entertaining 90+ minutes.

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