Review: JAILBREAK (2017)

Cambodia’s first foray into martial arts movies makes us excited for more to come from Cambodia.  While the comparisons to THE RAID and SPL 2 have been inevitable and prominent, this film offers enough stuff to still make it stand on its own.  Showcasing the Cambodian martial art bokator and featuring MMA fighter Tharoth Sam, Cambodia’s first martial arts film makes us very excited for their next.

JAILBREAK (2017)

Starring: Jean-Paul Ly, Dara Our, Tharoth Sam, Céline Tran, Savin Phillip

Directed by:  Jimmy Henderson

action choreography:  Dara Our and Jean-Paul Ly

The notorious gang leader of the Butterfly Gang “Playboy” (Phillip) has been arrested.  Upon being taken to jail, he reveals he is not the true boss leader.   Playboy offers to reveal the REAL leader in return for leniency.  Once the actual boss Madam Butterfly (Tran) finds out, she orders a hit on Playboy inside the prison.  Only the handful of cops escorting the target can save him now.

I’ve heard a lot of comparisons to THE RAID and can see why superficially.  It’s a low budget brawler, very minimal plot (in a good way), and a ton of action all tightly packed in an enclosed space starring a fairly unknown cast.

However, this movie should still be celebrated in its own right.  While it’s still a brutal action movie, there is an overall lightheartedness and sense of humor that gives the movie its own unique charm.  Though most of the cops play serious roles, the villains all get to shine in various ways.  There are several foes that when they enter the scene you’ll instantly know they will be part of a video game boss fight.  They are almost like comic book villains, perhaps not deep character-wise, but with with varying degrees of charm and personality.  Playboy is spineless and cowardly, which historically is a huge red flag when I see a character like this in a typical HK.  Fortunately Phillip makes it fun and light and keeps the story going.

Should I Watch it?

This movie might be my favorite action movie of the year 2017.  A very lightweight plot that provides enough framework for a story without getting in the way of all the action.  It’s got a lot of violence, action, heroes you will be rooting for and villains you’ll love to hate.  There’s a bit of shakey cam and several gimmicky shots, but overall the fights are legible and grounded, in classic HK style.  Though this is Cambodia’s first foray into action, it definitely competes with the best of Asia and is still leaps and bounds over Hollywood action.  Hoping there’s more to come.

Movie Rating: 4 Stars (4 / 5) Kung Fu Rating: 4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

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Posted on September 10, 2018 in Kung Fu Movie Reviews

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About the Author

Aaron Andersen is the creative director of Legendary Weapons of LA. He's a designer, animator and avid fan of kung fu cinema.

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