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 syndicates human trafficking network.
Nick, a tough NY cop, runs afoul of the Russian mob engaged in human trafficking, and they end up killing his wife and daughter for revenge. Determined to make them pay, he follows the kingpin to Bangkok, the hub of their activities. He teams up with a Thai detective and they decide to wipe out the entire organization and terminate their business entirely.Written by
Formulaic storyline elevated by strong cast performing visceral choreography
Action fans might be familiar with Skin Trade theme or actors. It has mainstay names of the genre and the addition of brazen stunts by Tony Jaa with his vicious stunts. The plot revolves around the titular skin trade or human trafficking as the back drop of high octane combat sequences. It's not an in-depth commentary of the subject nor does it overcome the occasional narrative familiarities, however the fast pace clash of knuckles and barrage of bullets will entertain the genre aficionado.
Story follows two different cops whose interests are aligned as they uncover the a human trafficking industry led by Dragovic (Ron Perlman). Nick (Dolph Lundgren) is a police at New Jersey, he has to resort to unorthodox method as Dragovic is raising the stake as he utilizes brutal methods. Tony (Tony Jaa) works on different angle in Bangkok by performing his own investigation. The direction of story doesn't veer too much from revenge or rescue theme.
There are a lot of subplots that could be explored, but the film focuses on the fundamental premise only. Human trafficking issue is a delicate one, the film takes a safe route and it doesn't always pay off. Sometimes it rehearses the material too often and becomes trapped in hero saving damsel in distress stereotype. Antagonist side has some potential as Dragovic has several sons vying for his approval, however the characters aren't fully fleshed out. One of the sons even snorts cocaine in every scene he's in, almost as a comedic effect.
Fortunately, the veteran actors are robust enough to carry the plot and action. Props to Tony Jaa as he brings a decent performance even in almost entirely English spoken movie. His acting isn't that developed yet, but he's definitely presentable as international action star. Perlman and Lundgren are already famous name, and they deliver what is expected from them. Michael Jai White also has a charismatic presence on screen as he rounds up the cast.
Action is where the movie is at its best. Practically any Tony Jaa's movie has unabashed ferocious stunts. There are many well-choreographed fights here, along with vehicular mayhem and a couple of acrobatic or parkour scenes. It also brings the Rambo carnage at some points with one man army gimmick, the movie is an amalgamation of western and eastern action.
Though the plot might be simplified and familiar, the collision of big names in bigger brawls is a spectacle for genre fans.
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