Skin Trade (2014)

Posted in Reviews by - June 19, 2015
Skin Trade (2014)

This really should be much better given the high calibre of talent involved. It’s the sort of clichéd cop thriller Dolph Lundgren would have made in the 1980s with much of its clunky dialogue, bad acting and exploitative content dating from the same period. Only Tony Jaa breathes life into a moody film with his refreshing lead role – his first in English, although he’s not required to say much. Lundgren is a cop on the hunt for the Russian family behind a global people-smuggling operation. He gets too close to Ron Perlman’s accented kingpin that his wife and child get whacked in a drive-by bombing (but not before showing Lundgren’s wife in her underwear, of course). So, the hulking Dolph goes rogue like some kind of testosterone-fuelled robotic experiment gone wrong and starts breaking skulls in Thailand, from which the film becomes a triple-header with Jaa’s compassionate but lethal cop joining Michael Jai White’s sidelined FBI agent on the case. Jaa’s wire-free fight scenes with Lundgren and White are great flourishes of excitement, and momentarily lift the film from its B-movie roots. It ends with an epilogue regarding the so-called ‘skin trade’. There is definitely a film to be made about the very serious and real threat of sex trafficking, particularly in some of Asia’s poorest communities, but this isn’t it.

AKA: Battle Heat

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