There’s seldom an Asian-American film that has such remarkable action sequences while also having an engagingly fun story. Sometimes it’s more plot than great action, and other times it’s great action and stunts with a barely-visible story. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, and Triple Threat is one of them.
An elite assassin squad has their sights set on Chinese billionaire heiress Xiao Xian (Celina Jade), after a crime syndicate places a hit on her. When a handful of professional mercenaries (Tiger Hu Chen, Tony Jaa, and Iko Uwais) become intertwined with the events, they band together to fight off the assassins in order to protect her. We’re quickly introduced to these mercenaries at the beginning of the film, allowing us to create an attachment and concern for them as the movie progresses.
Triple Threat has a nice and simple story, but one that doesn’t feel slow-paced or unnecessary. Each act feels as if it metamorphosed to maintain control of the viewer’s attention. The writers make it so you understand the motives of all of the characters and why each sequence flows into the next. I could feel just how much these bad-ass mercenaries want to finally do the right thing, to make up for all of their past wrongs. This is a message we can all get behind and, with the breath of life the actors give to their mercenary characters, we ultimately root for them.
There is a nice story transition between the opening scenes and the revelation of the film, allowing it to flow smoothly, all while showing us some of the most kick-ass stunt choreography I’ve witnessed in a long time. I would have liked to have a bit more smoothness on the scene transition in the editing phase, but it was really only noticeable in the first act. Close-ups of the guns gives some semblance that the weapon is one with the owner, a unique method.
The use of slow motion on some of the kicks – which has been grossly overdone in too many films – really helped draw you into the moment and enjoy the swiftness of every motion, without ever over-exaggerating it. The way the scenes are shot is very deliberate, allowing the audience to feel its authenticity, and paired with excellent sound mixing – you are able to immerse yourself in the best aspect of the film. You can feel the intensity of every action sequence, but Triple Threat brings more to the table than just insane martial arts choreography. There are some of the best kills in this flick – ones that make you go “whoa!” while covering your mouth – and the actors utilize every surface of the screen, and the objects around them, to knock heads around.
Going into it blind, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Knowing Michael Jai White was in this meant I knew there’d be English (and also a punch of humor), but I definitely didn’t expect the majority of the film to be. As wonderful as multi-lingual films are, it can sometimes be distracting or take you out of a moment, but this never happens in Triple Threat. The cast, where English doesn’t seem to be their predominant first language, still surprised me because their English was never seemingly dubbed, which is a huge benefit to the film.
While the story isn’t anything unfamiliar or groundbreaking, it still served its purpose and made for an engaging journey. So often, I find stories start off the strongest in the beginning and fall prey to weakness in the break into the third act, but I was gripped the whole ride through here. With the combination of a pronounced cast and spectacular stunt choreography, Triple Threat is the kind of explosive fun that makes you want to grab a bucket of popcorn, kick back, and enjoy.