If all goes as expeditious as planned, stunt multi-hyphenate Jesse V. Johnson’s latest contribution with all-star Asian headliner, Triple Threat, should see a release midway this year. Post-production still remains pending completion for the new action thriller written by Joey O’Bryan and Paul Staheli, and filmed early last year and with fans pining for Johnson’s latest exciting follow-up to this week’s release of Accident Man, I managed to touch base with Mike Selby, manager to one of the film’s leads – action star Tony Jaa.
It was Selby, who served as one of the producers as he did on Skin Trade, Jaa’s 2015 two-hander with action heavy-hitter Dolph Lundgren opposite Ron Perlman and Michael Jai White, who aided us in getting in touch with his client for an in-depth interview several years ago. At the time, he and I chatted and I made a passing mention about hopefully seeing Jaa and headlining action star Iko Uwais on screen together someday, and that was really all that was at the time. Nowadays it’s something of a mind-blowing reality with up to seven big stars plus Michael Wong and Celina Jade who starred in last year’s summer blockbuster Wolf Warrior 2. It reads as quite the achievement and pretty feasible in a post-Expendables era of film, and all the more opportune for the production.
Photo: Mike Selby
“It was easier than it might appear. We all knew each other, and everyone felt it was the right time to do something together. A couple of other comments.” says Selby. “Jaa and Scott Adkins have been friends for quite some time but never had a chance to work together. Triple Threat was something they both looked forward to and they really had a great time together. Jaa is also quite close with Michael Bisping with whom he worked with on xXx3. Jeeja Yanin is also in Triple Threat and has worked and trained together with Jaa on a number of occasions. This was truly a behind-the-scenes buddy movie.”
Triple Threat had several directors’ names circling the project during its evolution; Certainly someone like Chad Stahelski caught wind of fans, though time would ultimately tell just went things would change, and in all likelihood, for the better with Jesse V. Johnson sitting in the chair. Momentum was already stirring for the director following his stellar hit period thriller, Savage Dog, set in the early 1900s in Indochina with Adkins as a boxer who finds himself becoming the center of heroic folklore in lieu of a bloody battle with an oppresive Nazi warden and his French legionaire military. Johnson spoke to us last month lending some descriptive insight into the hard work it took to finish the film and Selby is echoing those sentiments all the same, from post-production and onward.
“In the final form that we came up with Jesse was the name that came to mind.” he says. “Jesse is a machine when it comes to work, he pays attention to every detail as if it was the end of the world. He is one very hard working guy and is easy to work with. We actually reworked the script together until we felt it jelled, and off he went.” Selby extended his praise in speaking highly of local film crew members amidst the kind of brisk scheduling and set conditions involved in making a film like Triple Threat happen and the endurance it takes, adding “I believe that Thai crews are among the best in the world. They have a lot of experience in logistics and setup and the enthusiasm to make things work. The shoot went off without a hitch, we were always on time.”
Photo: Mike Selby
Selby hopes for a steady release starting as early as this June as the film completes its rounds behind-the-scenes. Most genre fans were gutted to see a 2018 stamp after Well Go USA delivered such an amazing SDCC trailer, leaving some folks wondering what to do with themselves between now and then. Selby shed a little bit of light on the matter in this regard, citing the importance of ADR (automated dialogue replacement) as especially on many films where the actors are not native English speakers. He also talked about the key measures visual effects editing for all of the organic stuntwork that was filmed (not special effects as some might reckon). “…The folks at Arclight who packaged the film are perfectionists and wanted to make sure this film was really the best we could deliver. This slowed postproduction down somewhat, but at the end I think people will find it was worth it.” he said.
Actor, martial artist and stuntman Tim Man who has risen in the ranks as one of the best screenfighters and action directors to date, makes Triple Threat now one of six projects shared with Adkins and the second project he shares with Jaa since sharing stunt duties on Ong Bak 2. “Tim Man is nothing short of an action monster. He was great to work with.” Selby tells us. “Tim did pre-visual work (blocking out and shooting with the stunt team) on every action scene. He rehearsed extensively with the cast and welcomed their input and the result was when people like Jaa or Iko arrived on set they were truly ready to rock and roll.”
With Triple Threat on the way, I’m pretty certain a number of people are already waiting on the sequel. Deadline reported the news of its preliminary development as the Comic Con trailer began making the rounds. According to Selby, it’s fairly too soon to tell, while Triple Threat otherwise bookmarks a pretty memorable team effort among friends with reason to celebrate their camraderie, as well as their craft, saying “…I can tell you with certainty that you will see some of the cast working together on other projects. One thing about this shoot that was truly outstanding was how much everyone liked each other and how much fun everyone had.”
Photo: Mike Selby
Selby offered one other thought regarding the “other projects” the cast would work on. Fans following updates for Kellie Madison’s upcoming fantasy action thriller, The Gate, caught a clear view of Jaa’s name when the site went live, and I inquired with the producer and manager regarding. He tells us nothing is official but also gives way for just enough optimism: “We have seen the script and thought it was interesting so we are certainly open to it.”
A June date isn’t official either for that matter, but it does give us an idea about where exactly to pinpoint when the film will open. Triple Threat is an independent production and one of a dying breed of entries in cinema that nowadays often ends up on the direct-to-home markets. A project this big requires some serious investment next to the grueling workload one endures to help put a project like this together, and so one hopes this will not only see a theatrical release, but a strong turn out that will match the financial goals needed to make a sequel happen.
That obviously means not stealing it, something I was informed Adkins wasn’t very pleased about while in Thailand with regard to Boyka: Undisputed IV, and as vocal as he is and as visibly damaging as torrenting can be, the frustration is understandable. It’s why I largely stand by the headline of my review for Boyka: Undisputed IV and, in essence, why that could also affect Triple Threat in the forseeable future, and it’s definitely up to us to be better fans and change that.
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.