09th Jul2019

‘Triple Threat’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Tony Jaa, Tiger Hu Chen, Iko Uwais, Scott Adkins, Celina Jade, Michael Jai White, Michael Bisping, JeeJa Yanin, Dominiquie Vandenberg, Ron Smoorenburg, Monica Siu-Kei Mok | Written by Joey O’Bryan, Fangjin Song, Paul Staheli | Directed by Jesse V. Johnson

triple-threat-dvd-cover

Growing up action movies were, for me, second only to horror flicks as my go to genre. I used to scour the pages of Impact for news on the latest films and then pre-order the VHS at my local video shop – because yes, back in the day you could actually pre-order a video rental and I ALWAYS had to be first to rent my most-anticipated flicks! I mention this only because it was back in that era that the action movie star was king. Starting out with the likes of Stallone and Schwarzenegger, the VHS era gave birth to a myriad of action movie superstars: guys like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Jeff Speakman, Jeff Wincott and the queen of action films Cynthia Rothrock… all of whom carved out careers in what were – for the most part – direct to video films.

So why the history lesson? Well there’s a direct correlation between that period in action movie filmmaking and the CURRENT career of Britain’s own action super star Scott Adkins – who moved from bit parts on UK television to roles in martial arts films like Black Mask 2, and Jackie Chan’s The Medallion before taking the lead in DTV sequel Undisputed 2 and following it up with a myriad of lead roles in some of the best direct-to-market films around today – Ninja and its sequel, Eliminators, Undisputed 3 & 4; leading us to his latest triple-bill which have all hit the UK at the same time – including Triple Threat, which sees a hit contract taken out on a billionaire’s daughter who is intent on bringing down a major crime syndicate. Following a botched “rescue” operation, a down and out team of mercenaries must take on a group of professional assassins and stop them before they kill their target.

Wow. Adkins goes rogue…

In a departure for the action hero, Adkins here takes the villainous lead in a film that sees him star alongside a bevy of who’s who in the martial arts filmmaking world, including Iko Uwais, Tony Jaa, and Tiger Hu Chen who are the titular triple threat of the title – a trio of heroes, well more like anti-heroes given their actions in the film, who are all seeking revenge on Adkins mercenary and his crew, which also counts the ever-awesome Michael Jai White and Michael Bisping among its number – making this something of an Expendables of modern martial arts cinema.

In the intro I mentioned that Adkins is – essentially – carrying the torch for the kinds of genre cinema I grew up with and Triple Threat is a perfect example of that: it has the sensibilities of Chuck Norris’ earlier, more gritty actioners, such as the Missing in Action series (I say that primarily because of the jungle-set opening and the POW-esque plot device) with the wow-factor of modern martial arts exemplified by Uwais and Jaa’s film oeuvre; all wrapped up in a revenge plot that feels very much akin to the DTV films of Jeff Wincott and Thomas Ian Griffith.

It’s no surprise that Triple Threat works so well – it comes from director Jesse V. Johnson, who previously worked with Adkins on the likes of Savage Dog and Accident Man and has a carved out a career as a go-to director when it comes to not only getting a finished product that is filled with action but also a film that looks considerably more than just another direct to market title. Such is the case with Triple Threat, which looks similar to the aforementioned movies like Missing in Action, which  – I’m sure – was shot for considerably more money than this feature. But budget be damned, if Johnson (and Adkins for that matter) can pull off movies like this with low budgets I’m all for seeing them given a big budget and the freedom to give us more of the same – maybe if they did we’d have a new era of blockbuster action flicks rather than the current superhero movie trend? I’d be up for that!

Triple Threat is available digitally via the likes of iTunes and Amazon Prime and on DVD from Universal.

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