With the emergence of the kung-fu of Bruce Lee and subsequently Jackie Chan, martial arts cinema gained a huge worldwide audience. The wuxia of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon took matters into the realms of fantasy and sparked a whole new wave of interest. It was again grounded in the brutal and breathtaking Ong Bak, with the frenetic Tony Jaa putting Thailand firmly on the map. Then Indonesia weighed in with The Raid. Jailbreak, directed by Jimmy Henderson, brings the Cambodian martial art of bokator to the big screen in brilliant fashion.
Playboy (Savin Phillip), a notorious criminal and a compatriot of the notorious Butterfly gang, has been apprehended and needs to be safely delivered to jail. French-Cambodian officer (Jean-Paul Ly) is assigned to support a group of local police comprising the straight-laced Dara (Dara Our), the steel-willed Tharoth (Tharoth Sam) and the unpredictable Sucheat (Dara Phang). However, Madame Butterfly (Celine Tran) has other idea, putting out a contract on Playboy’s head. When a riot breaks out, the group must defend their charge against a dangerous group of violent prisoners intent on murder.
Jailbreak is a whirlwind of action, containing some of the best fight scenes you’ll see this year. These are expertly choreographed by Dara Our and Jean-Paul Ly. Using primarily one location could easily have led to the action sequences feeling repetitive and stale. Henderson cleverly uses a vast array of camera angles and movements to combat this and keep things fresh and vibrant. Jailbreak is bound to go down a storm. It takes the breakneck action we’ve become accustomed to in The Raid and goes back to basics. Whilst Gareth Evans put great emphasis on style, Jailbreak capitalises on its authenticity. It looks real. Scarily real at times. It’s scintillating action cinema which is guaranteed get your blood pumping.
Jailbreak is screening at London Film Festival on 6,7 & 15 October.