Jailbreak ការពារឧក្រិដ្ឋជន (2017) Review

A team of cops led by Jean-Paul (Jean-Paul Ly), Dara (Dara Our) and Tharoth (Tharoth Sam) end up fighting for their survivals inside the high-security Prei Klaa prison in Cambodia while escorting the notorious criminal, Playboy (Savin Phillip).

Already a successful box-office hit when it was shown in Cambodia earlier this year and even received several accolades from various film festivals, it looks as if Jailbreak qualifies as this year’s The Raid. Instead of Indonesia’s pencak silat showcased in The Raid and its sequel, Jailbreak promotes Cambodia’s martial arts known as bokator. Like The Raid, this Cambodian martial arts actioner also revolves around a team of local cops trapped in a single setting (The Raid‘s high-rise building vs. Jailbreak‘s prison building) filled with violent criminals.

First, let’s get to the good stuff. The fight scenes are expertly filmed by Jimmy Henderson alongside cinematographer Godefroy Ryckewaert with lots of long takes and wide angles amidst the tight space of its prison setting, which allows you to enjoy the martial arts choreography to the fullest. Kudos also go to French-Cambodian stuntman-turned-actor Jean-Paul Ly and Dara Our, who both doubled as martial arts choreographers for this movie.

Still, not every fight scene work in its favour. At times, they tend to get repetitive with some of the fight scenes look almost the same. When it comes to non-action moments, the movie falls flat with its awkward mix of comedy that desperately wanted to ape the ’80s Hong Kong action formula. But too bad the humour mostly missed its mark, while the characters are either sketchy, bland or downright annoying such as Savin Phillip’s performance as Playboy.

As much as I applaud all the hard works by Jean-Paul Ly and Dara Our, their acting performances are neither charismatic nor engaging enough to make them a standout as the next martial arts stars to look forward to. Then there’s the forceful romantic subplot involving Jean-Paul, Dara and Tharoth that should have been excised in the first place. As for Céline Tran, the retired porn star formerly known as Katsuni is fairly adequate during her sword-fighting moment against Tharoth, albeit her dull acting skill that doesn’t make her imposing enough as the movie’s main antagonist.

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