Triple Threat (2019)

Director: Jesse V Johnson

Writer: Joey O’Bryan, Fangjin Song, Paul Staheli (Screenplay)

Starring: Tony Jaa, Tiger Hu Chen, Iko Uwais, Scott Adkins, Celina Jade, Michael Jai White, Michael Bisping

 

Plot: A hit contract is taken out on a billionaire’s daughter who is intent on bringing down a major crime syndicate. A down and out team of mercenaries must take on a group of professional assassins and stop them before they kill their target.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Action Flick

 

Story: Triple Threat starts when a group of professional assassins led by Devereaux (White) breaks Collins (Adkins) out of a remote holding location in the jungle, Jaka (Uwais) is the only survive of the assault which sees the love of his life killed. Xian (Jade) the daughter of a billionaire is planning to use her fortune to take down a crime syndicate, which makes her a big target for the syndicate.

Jaka searching for the people responsible locates two members of the team Paya (Jaa) and Long Fei (Chen) who were also left for dead by the assassins, soon Payu and Long Fei will find themselves needing to defend Xian, while Jaka using other means to get revenge.

 

Thoughts on Triple Threat

 

Characters – Payu is one of the guides that helps the assassins through the jungle, he is betrayed and left for dead with his partner, returning to the underground fighting scene for money, he soon finds himself going up against the assassins once again, using his connections from his mysterious past to do the right thing. Long Fei is the partner of Payu, he is much more straight down the line with everything, equally as good in combat, the two make for a deadly team. Jaka is one of the guards of the camp, he is left for dead and left to bury his wife, he wants revenge and knows how to get it, he is hunting down everybody involved, playing them against each other to get what he wants. Collins is the leader of the assassins, broken out of prison to take on the latest job, he must complete the last job, which sees him hunting down Payu and Long Fei, while leading his team in the assassination mission of Xian. He is cocky and believes he can always win in a fight against any level of opponent. Xian is the daughter of a billionaire, she has made it clear she will be giving up for fortune to make the streets clean for the next generation of children, this sees her being the target for the crime syndicates of the country, forcing her to figure out who to trust for her own safety. Devereaux is the second in command, he doesn’t trust Jaka in any of the missions and is quite happy to watch anywhere they have worked burn to the ground.

PerformancesThis has a cast that will be an action fans dream, Tony Jaa, Tiger Hu Chen and Iko Uwais fighting is something we can watch all day long, seeing the human side of the story has help show how the three are improving outside of the action scenes in film too. Scott Adkins in the villainous role works very well too showing his fighting skills, while being a villain that is easy to see how they are performing through the film. Celina Jade and Michael Jai White complete the main cast not putting a foot wrong through the film.

StoryThe story here follows an elite group of assassins that have been hired to eliminate a billionaire woman that wants to end the crime world going on in her home land, only for her to need to turn to new mercenaries who will be the ones that will keep her safe from the danger. This is a story that focuses on the action over any really difficult subjects going on, we do get people coming from different sides searching for a moment which will see them getting their own objective, be it a paid job, revenge or change. The story is mostly, lets get to this location or lets get away from this location usually involving a fight along the way, it is nothing completed hitting everything it needs to by the end of the film.

ActionThe action brings some of the best martial artists together in dream fight matches, we have each unique style given to the actors involved, they don’t go to the full levels of their hits or give away all their best moves.

SettingsThe film does use the settings to create different locations for the fights, be it the jungle, the police station or the final showdown location.


Scene of the Movie –
Seeing Jaa, Uwais and Adkins fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The fact they don’t let Xian show any fighting skills.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun action film that brings together some of the brightest fighting stars in the business today in a story which will see them get a chance to fight.

 

Overall: Pure action fun.

Rating

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Action – X – XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017) Revisited

When I first reviewed XXX: Return of Xander Cage it got a 7.1.

Director: D.J. Caruso

Writer: F Scott Frazier (Screenplay) Rich Wilkes (Characters)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Rory McCann, Toni Collete, Samuel L Jackson

 

Plot: Xander Cage is left for dead after an incident, though he secretly returns to action for a new, tough assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons.


Tagline – Guns, girls, global domination.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Popcorn Film

 

Story: XXX: Return of Xander Cage starts when Gibbons (Jackson) is killed by a falling satellite, CIA know the one device which could have caused this, ‘Pandora’s Box’ a device capable of taking satellites out of the sky turning them into warheads. Xiang (Yen) and his team Serena (Padukone), Talon (Jaa) and Hawk (Bisping) steal Pandora’s Box right from under the CIA agent Jane Marke (Collette) hands.

Jane is forced to turn to long thought dead Xander Cage (Diesel) to return Pandora’s Box, with his own team of Adele (Rose), Tennyson (McCann) and Nick (Wu) to travel the world to even the odds in the fights that will go around the world.

 

Thoughts on XXX: Return of Xander Cage

 

Characters – Xander Cage has returned from the dead, the extreme sport lover is bought back in for a new mission which will see him take on the deadly Xiang as his team of elite fighters. He uses his connections to get the mission complete, with his extremes sports to escape the situations he finds himself in. Xiang has led a team to steal the Pandora’s box, he is highly skilled and went through his own XXX recruitment program. His plans might not be as evil as first thought. Serena works for Xiang, she has the same background as Xander, working on the rebellious good guy nature. Adele is one of Xander’s team, she hunts hunters with her sniper skills. Jane Marke works for the CIA and needs recruit Xander to return the stolen weapon, she isn’t as friendly as Gibbons as she knows the stakes. We get the generic side characters too, each having their moment to help the mission.

PerformancesFirst thing before we get into the complete conversation on performances, we must praise the international cast, which sees actors from around the globe join forces. Vin Diesel is the leading role does better than I first gave him credit for, this is every you would expect from him. Seeing Donnie Yen stepping into an American movie is great because we get to see his fighting skills in action. Deepika Padukone steps away from Bollywood for her first Hollywood role never looking out of place in the action heavy role. We do have a wonderful supporting cast that includes Tony Jaa, Ruby Rose, Rory McCann and Toni Collette each getting to show off their time on screen.

StoryThe story brings Xander Cage back from the dead as he must lead a team in an attempt to return a stolen device which could be used as a weapon against the world. let’s be honest, we don’t need the deepest story because this is a film used to showcase the combat abilities of the cast, needing to keep the story nice and simple, good guys need to get device back before devastation could happen. We have a few twists along the way and we do get to build upon the universe that XXX operates in. this is one you can switch your brain off and enjoy.

Action/AdventureThe action is massive with fights, stunts and chases going on through the film which is a joy to watch if you want to switch your mind off, physics might well be out the window, but extreme sports fans will enjoy. The adventure side of the film takes us around the world as the mission is put into play.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show different locations that the XXX team would be operating in, be it hiding or willing to fight in.


Scene of the Movie –
Plane ending.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Ice Cube’s role is mostly wasted.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the action films you can just switch on and switch off to enjoy the action unfold.

 

Overall: Pure popcorn action blast.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – Kill Zone 2 (2015)

Director: Pou-Soi Cheang

Writer: Lai-yin Leung, Ying Wong (Screenplay)

Starring: Tony Jaa, Jing Wu, Simon Yam, Jin Zhang, Louis Koo, Ken Lo, Jun Kung

 

Plot: While undercover officer Kit is taken prisoner by the syndicate, he befriends his keeper and discovers an organ trafficking ring.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Emotional Charged Action Film

 

Story: Kill Zone 2 starts as we learn about an organ trafficking ring going on through China operated by Hung Mun-Gong (Koo), Kit (Wu) is an undercover police officer trying to break and expose the ring but finds himself in a Thai jail once his cover is blown. Inside the jail a prison guard Chatchai (Jaa) is dealing with his own daughter suffering with leukaemia with little hope in being able to afford a cure.

With Mr Hung also needing a transplant he finds himself searching for his missing brother with Kit even with the language barrier working with Chatchai to find his daughter a cure and bring down the crime syndicate.

 

Thoughts on Kill Zone 2

 

Characters/PerformanceChatchai is an honest hard working prison guard, he is going through heartache as his own daughter is suffering with leukaemia and in desperate need for bone marrow transplant. He risks his career and life to find a cure for her, much like any father in this situation. Kit is the undercover Chinese cop that is trying to bring down a crime syndicate that is trafficking human organs, he ends up in a Thai prison where he doesn’t speak the language and the only person that shows any kindness is Chatchai. Mr Hung is the man running the organ trafficking mostly so he can find a cure for his own sickness. Warden Ko is one of the loyal followers of Mr Hung that uses his position to help cover up the problems in another country.

Performance wise, we know we are going to get good action performances from the whole cast with Tony Jaa, Jing Wu and Jin Zhang all get scenes where they dominate the screen. There is also good emotional range because of what is going on to the characters through the film

StoryOn the surface this could have been a very basic take down the crime boss who is doing something illegal in organ trafficking but this story is so much more. We have characters that have true stakes going, the prison warden fighting to save his daughter, the cop needing to recover from his undercover position and a crime boss willing to sacrifice his own brother to survive. Mixing this altogether leaves us wanting to see what happens and rooting for all the characters.

Action/CrimeThe action is great and just what you have come to expect from Tony Jaa action films, but I would point out this isn’t just about him and his action appeal, this is a combined effort. The crime side of the film is crucial but at times doesn’t feel like it gets all the attention it starts off with.

SettingsMixing the settings between China and Thailand works because it builds the idea of things getting lost in translation between the two heroes.

Final ThoughtsWe all know I like a good action film, I also love an action film that has heart behind it all and this film does have that and then some. I like the stakes in play for the characters as we can all understand how far a parent would go to save their child and the mix in fighting styles is something to truly enjoy.

 

Overall: One for all the action film fans to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

xxxDirector: D.J. Caruso

Writer: F Scott Frazier (Screenplay) Rich Wilkes (Characters)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Samuel L Jackson, Toni Collette, Michael Bisping

 

Plot: Xander Cage is left for dead after an incident, though he secretly returns to action for a new, tough assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Surprisingly Entertaining

 

Story: XXX the Return of Xander Cage starts when Augustus Gibbons (Jackson) is doing his recruitment trick once again with Neymar Jr (Yes, the footballer) before a satellite crash lands killing them both (Guess Jackson didn’t want the full pay check).

We move to CIA headquarters who are working out who crashed the satellite with Jane Marke (Collette) leading the investigation when Xiang (Yen), Serena Unger (Padukone), Hawk (Bisping) and Talon (Jaa) steal it back leaving the best of the best for dead.

There is just one man for this job, Xander Cage (Diesel) the extreme sports maniac returning to avenge his handler’s death. Xander must build a new team Adele Wolff (Rose), Torch (McCann) and Nicks (Wu) to go head to head with the deadliest opponents in the series of films.

 

Thoughts on XXX the Return of Xander Cage

 

StoryThe story does feel more complete than other XXX films but is one you really do have to go into with your brain off and just enjoy everything unfold. If you were to study this film for flaws you sure could find a few but this one is a story written to entertain. Bringing back Xander was the most important thing about this film working because he is what the draw of the extreme sports super-agent that is off the books stopping the bad guys.

Action/Adventure The action is wildly over the top and that is why we enjoy this style of films at time, we just need to switch off and enjoy.

Characters/PerformanceLet’s look at the characters now, Xander Cage is back and he was definitely the best of the two original XXX’s and this time he is still in love with his extreme sports and willing to fight for the country. Xiang is a good villain and a hell of a lot more interesting that other villains in the series. We do get a lot of comic relief from the supporting characters with Torch, Becky Nicks, and Wolff all doing the state the obvious or playing generic stereotypes. While the weakest character is Serena because she is just like any other female love interest in this style of film.

Looking at the performances Vin Diesel does seem to be mailing this one in which is disappointing because the character and attitude are all over the place this time around. It is fantastic to see Donnie Yen in his second American movie in a matter of months and being the star of the film. Deepika does also do a good job even if I felt the character was weakly written. The rest of the supporting cast are all fun with them all getting to show off their talents.

SettingsWe get our characters being put in the exotic locations for all the action sequences until we also end up in Detroit because I guess the budget couldn’t afford another beach location.

Special EffectsWhen you look at the special effects they all work for the film we get the nonsense over the top action getting made to look realistic throughout.

Final ThoughtsNot being the biggest fan of the XXX series after the first one I wasn’t expecting too much going into this one but you know what sometimes you just need to be entertained without thinking and this film delivers on all of that.

 

Overall: Switch off your brain and enjoy this adrenaline rush of an action film.

Ratingcard

 

 

Skin Trade (2015)

logoDirector: Ekachai Uekrongtham

Writer: Gabriel Dowrick, Steven Elder, John Hyams, Dolph Lundgren (Screenplay)

Starring: Ron Perlman, Tony Jaa, Dolph Lundgren, Celina Jade, Michael Jai White, Peter Weller, Conan Stevens, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

 

Plot: After his family is killed by a Serbian gangster with international interests. NYC detective Nick goes to S.E. Asia and teams up with a Thai detective to get revenge and destroy the syndicate’s human trafficking network.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Pure Action Film

Story: Skin Trade starts with a young girl running from Cambodia where she gets tricked into becoming another victim to the Skin Trade. Skip to New Jersey where we meet Detective Nick Cassidy (Lundgren) using his know how to track down a suspect. We also meet Tony (Jaa) in Tokyo trying to take down the latest Skin Trade. Both men get the information they need and show that they are on the good side of the law.

Viktor Dragovic (Perlman) is the Serbian mobster working in Russia with the Skin Trade being his primary money maker. Viktor is having his latest shipment delivered to New Jersey and all the law authorities are there waiting to finally take him down. The bust at the docks leads to plenty of bloodshed with Viktor’s son being one of the victims of Nick’s, but most importantly Viktor is put behind bars.

Viktor may well behind bars but his boys are out for revenge for the death of their brother and target Nick, killing his wife and his daughter, leaving him for dead. To make matters worse Viktor has fled the country.

Nick travels to Thailand where FBI agent Reed (White) teams up with Tony to try and stop his rampage from getting out of hand. Nick becomes a most wanted man when Reed frames him for the murder of Tony’s partner. It isn’t long before Tony and Nick learn they are after the same thing and only have each other to trust as they aim to take down Viktor as his crime syndicate.

Skin Trade is a film that I went into not expecting anything amazing but the cast make enjoyable action films so this had to be watch. What is got was a pleasant surprise with a great story that enters into the realm of reality (without the endless bullets part) where we have a real look into the horrors of the human trafficking business. I maybe well be slightly biased towards action films but I must say this one pulls you in early and simply never lets you go. We do get a few generic traits in both good and bad guys but hey, this film isn’t going to be about character building it is about fighting. I am willing to say this is the best storyline in an action film that I have seen this year. (9/10)

 

Actor Review

Ron Perlman: Viktor Dragovic is the Serbian mobster who runs a human trafficking ring around the world. When he gets captured and his son is killed he takes out the man responsible before going into hiding. Ron makes for a great villain with his blank stares when he comes face to face with Nick that show he really has no fear or regret for his characters action. (8/10)

 

Tony Jaa: Tony Vitayakul is the Thai Detective trying to stop the human trafficking working with his connection in the US to stop it. Tony teams up with Nick to take down Viktor after losing his partner to one of Viktor’s men. Tony kicks serious butt here showing he is ready to take the US market by storm. (8/10)

jaa

Dolph Lundgren: Nick Cassidy is the good cop who finally gets to take down Viktor but due to a technicality ends up on his bad side when Viktor takes out his family leaving him for dead. Nick sets out on a one man crusade to kill anyone working with Viktor and anyone who gets in his way. Dolph does a great job apart from when he is running where he looks like he is showing his age. (7/10)

 nick

Michael Jai White: Reed is the FBI agent who gets involved in trying to take down the human trafficking ring offering help where it is needed, but he is really staying close to inform Viktor about investigations. Michael does a solid job in the supporting role where he gets to have a great fight with Tony Jaa. (6/10)

 white

Support Cast: Skin Trade has a supporting cast that includes the victims of the Skin Trade as well as the people involved in dealing in it or preventing it.

Director Review: Ekachai Uekrongtham – He does a great job directing this all out action film that never seems to let you take a breath. (8/10)

 

Action: Skin Trade is filled with hand to hand combat, chases and firefights to keep the action rolling throughout. (9/10)

Thriller: Skin Trade starts off making you interested but by the end of the film I was at the edge of my seat waiting for what will happen next. (10/10)

Settings: Skin Trade takes the action all over the world showing just how widespread the human trafficking really is. (9/10)

Suggestion: Skin Trade is an absolute must watch for any action fan out there, dare I say action film of the year? (Action MUST Watch)

 

Best Part: Jaa & Lundgren together.

Worst Part: Lundgren running.

Action Scene Of The Film: Jaa versus White.

 

Believability: The idea behind what is going on is a very real problem but the action side it not. (5/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: It could have a sequel.

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: Taken

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $9 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

Tagline: All scars tell a story.

Trivia: Dolph Lundgren wrote the script before ‘Taken’ (2008) came out or was produced, after he had read a newspaper article on human trafficking.

 

Overall: When it comes to Action Skin Trade is packed with everything you want and then some, being the action surprise film of the year.

Rating 89