Welcome to FOOT FIST FRIDAYS! A weekly dose of fight action where the Action-Flix.com experts share their thoughts on some of the greatest scenes of fisticuffs in action cinema history!
This week, John M Jerva brings you the epic clash between martial arts legends as Scott Adkins takes on Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais in the dream matchup from Triple Threat!
Action fans always have that one dream matchup in their minds. You know what I mean. It’s the fight between two or more of your most favorite martial arts action stars that you always wish you could see throwdown on the big screen. Whether it’s Chuck Norris taking on Bruce Lee in Return Of The Dragon or Jet Li and Mark Dacascos throwing down in Cradle To The Grave, there’s always that special clash of titans that you always long for and sometimes, just sometimes, dreams do come true and that is exactly what happened when director Jesse V. Johnson’s epic action ensemble Triple Threat finally made its way to theaters this past spring. The film is a collection of some of the most prolific and high profile stars in the genre which included Tony Jaa, Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White, Tiger Chen and Iko Uwais. This was definitely the dream team of martial arts action films. Press for the film even called it “The Expendables of Martial Arts Action Films.” I would have to agree 150%.
Before I talk about the epic matchup up for this installment of FOOT FIST FRIDAYS, first let me go back in time to a few years ago when it was first announced that this film was in development. Originally called The Makeshift Squad, the flick was to have Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais and Tiger Hu Chen team up together in one epic film. As soon as it was announced, fans immediately lost their collective minds at the thought of seeing these three legends unite on screen together for the first time. Just to have these three united would have been worth the price of admission alone. Then something more magical happened…
More news began to pour out that not only would these three top tier fighters grace the screen at the same time but that they would be taking on none other than action heavyweights Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White and MMA bad boy Michael Bisping. That’s right! Not only was there three legendary stars but now there were six. Fans immediately went into a collective frenzy of gigantic proportions that hasn’t been seen before or since. Add the fact that action maestro Jesse V. Johnson would be helming the mayhem then we all knew that something very special was on the way.
We had to wait a few years for the finished product to finally reach the masses but when it did, oh man was it ever a sight to behold. The film was locked and loaded with some of the finest fight sequences and action set pieces ever captured on film and all these stars rose to the occasion as they duked it out for hand to hand combat supremecy of unrivaled proportions.
This leads me to the scene of the hour for this edition of FOOT FIST FRIDAYS as the long awaited matchup between Scott Adkins and Tony Jaa was finally here and to see this throwdown happen on the big screen was like Christmas coming in the Spring time. That wasn’t good enough for us though. Oh no. Not only did Adkins take on Jaa but he also went toe to toe with Iko Uwais in a dazzling two on one matchup that will go down in the Martial Arts Action Hall Of Fame.
Now let me stress that not only do all three give it their all in this climatic scene to the film but Adkins finally gets to let loose with all of his death defying moves. It was a stroke of genius to not have Adkins do any empty handed fighting during the beginning and middle of the film so when he is able to unleash his deadly skills, it’s nothing short of spectacular. The scene moves at the speed of light as all three fighters showcase their deadly arts. Adkins gets to highlight his aerial arsenal as Uwais displays his brutal art of Pencak Silat. Jaa, who is the best of the best in the art of Muay Thai, unloads with the bone crunching knees and elbows that he has been known for ever since taking the world by storm in Ong Bak.
When one watches this scene, it is like a fever dream of epic proportions and the best shot of the whole fight is when Uwais delivers a penetrating flying kick into Adkins as he has just connected with a jump spinning back kick of his own to Jaa. That money shot is a thing of rare and brutal beauty and I think that I have rewound just that moment alone numurous times. Famed action and fight coordinator Tim Man choreographed all the fights for this film and he truly proved that he is the master of this domain as he pulled out all the tricks that he had up his sleeve. He really gave each star a chance to shine. I have seen thousands upon thousands of fight scenes in my 40 plus career of watching these types of films and just when I thought that nothing could excite me anymore, this film happened and I have revisited it on many occasion and will continue to do so on a regular basis. I got the great opportunity to see it on the big screen in a theater in Boston, Mass. and I can truly say that it was one of the best film going experiences of my life. Tim Man was able to combine the flash of all the aerial assaults delivered by the stars along with the more intricate and complex moves that only these men and women can deliver.
I was able to interview Jesse V. Johnson for the film and he talked to me about how important it was to make sure that each star got the most of their opportunities.
Johnson stated: “We worked backwards from the “set pieces” for each character, knowing where they had to fall within the structure of the film, we reverse engineered the storyline – where that didn’t work, we allowed ourselves to be free with editing the story to allow us to adapt and change to include the beats that were absolutely necessary to the dramatic structure. This meant the script had to remain “loose and changeable.”
“It was literally the only way we could pull it off. Thankfully Mike Selby, who is brilliant with structure and viability, worked with me every day, and we managed to adapt what Joey O’Brien had originally written for us to fit each of the very different characters. It was a blast, but nerve wracking art the same time.“
Johnson also told me how this finale at the abandoned Polo Club was the scene that stood out the most for him.
“They were all a challenge, the greatest one that Tim Man and the cast created was the finale showdown at the old Polo club. We had to have the bad guys take on the good guys and then carefully “intertwine” the fights to weave the audience into the resulting final standoff between our two main challengers.
It is magnificent, and I can say that without being a total ego-maniac, as the bulk of that work is Tim’s Choreography combined with the actors physicality – I was as much a spectator as the audience will be.
I laid out the beats and where they need to start and end and a few suggestions for dramatic moments within the routine and Tim then worked with the cast to make it a reality.”
Now we all know how the fight ends. Unfortunately, Adkins is the antagonist of the film and someone has to lose so Jaa gets the upper hand this time as he finally delivers his killer finishing move by driving not one but two knives into the chest of Adkins. This was proceeded by Jaa’s non-stop barrage of patented knees and elbows which was too much for Collins, who is Adkins’ character name, to handle. I do belive that we might hopefully get a sequel to the film and maybe, just maybe, Adkins survived the fight somehow and will return with the ultimate vengeance on his mind. I can dream but hopefully we will see Adkins and Jaa square of for martial arts dominance once more in the future. My only gripe is that I was hoping the fight would end in a draw of some kind and Adkins would somehow live to fight another day. It’s a little itty bitty gripe to say the least.
Now enough talk. It’s time to center the ring and watch this pulsating scene of breathtaking fisticuffs below. You know that you have seen it a thousand times but lets make it a thousand and one because a fight like this deserves to be viewed as many times as possible. As an added treat, the video below, courtesy of Martial Arts Action Media, has a few other of the film’s fights as well!
About The Author: John M Jerva is the owner and editor-in-chief of Action-Flix.com and is a DIE HARD fan of everyhting Action! From the glorious past to the thrilling future, John lives and breathes action! Long live action cinema!