Skin Trade

Year: 2015
Production Co: Baumgarten Management and Productions (BMP)
Director: Ekachai Uekrongtham
Writer: Gabriel Dowrick/Steven Elder/Dolph Lundgren
Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White, Peter Weller, Ron Perlman

No matter what your favourite action movie cliché, Skin Trade has it. The tough hero walks away from the explosion in slow motion, too cool to look back at it. We're supposed to think a character is dead even though they didn't die on screen. The investigation leads to a scene in a strip club. The two leads are on opposite sides of the law so you just know they're going to team up. The teenage daughter is in her mid twenties and too hot for the age she's playing. The wife is in her mid thirties and too hot for the age she's playing.

In fact there's a hilarious moment when the heroes, American cop Nick (Dolph Lundgren, still with a curiously Swedish twang to his accent) and Thai detective Tony (Tony Jaa), are kicking the shit out of each other in a barn for so long the music simply stops, as if even the soundtrack can't keep up with them any longer.

Nick is on the run in South East Asia with Tony trying to bring him in because – as the film opens – he makes a critical mistake when he and colleagues corner a Serbian crime boss Viktor (Ron Perlman) during a sting at (where else) the docks late one night.

After plugging one of Viktor's beloved sons, Nick makes the mistake of not putting one in Viktor too when he has the chance. Expensive and corrupt lawyers and an RPG attack on his house later, and Nick's beautiful wife is dead, his teenage daughter taken by a gang running a sex slavery operation and presumably dead too.

Nick becomes a ghost, following leads all the way to Thailand to exact vengeance on Viktor and his family, setting the stage for chases and smackdowns aplenty.

For the first half hour, while everybody's trying to act and speak lines from what was presumably the final draft of a real script, you'll be tempted to switch off. Stay with it – Lundgren and Jaa bring the pain in ever increasing doses on bad guys, the city around them and each other, and the blistering and brilliantly choreographed fight scenes will make you forget the hackneyed cop movie motifs, appalling dialogue and ropey acting in no time.

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