Skin Trade isn’t the most original movie ever but it was massively entertaining with some spectacular action and a stellar cast that is a must-see for action fans.
Plot: After his family is killed by a Serbian gangster with international interests, NYC detective Nick goes to S.E. Asia and teams up with a Thai detective to get revenge and destroy the syndicate’s human trafficking network.
Review: We’ve been excited for Skin Trade since it was first announced; a passion project from Dolph Lundgren with a cast that includes Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White, Ron Perlman, Celina Jade and Peter Weller.
Dolph started working on the project over 8 years ago as the subject of human trafficking was close to his heart. It’s understandable as to me traffickers are the lowest form of life and watching them being taken out in as violent a fashion as possible is always thoroughly satisfying.
The only thing is, as much as it’s great to see this dark business brought to light in so many movies today, it isn’t really anything we haven’t seen before with Taken, 6 Bullets and several other movies which are all essentially about the same subject.
There is plenty of action but it’s during the second half where all the hand to hand fighting comes in.
It’s worth the wait too with Dolph vs. Jaa an action highlight. The fight scenes are incredible with no shaky cam and the cast mostly look to be doing their own stunts. Dolph is still in mean shape and can handle the fight scenes but I loved how real it felt. During fights characters would be banging their heads off objects and it really added to the authenticity; it looked like they were genuinely battling it out.
For me Tony Jaa practically owns the movie; he moves unbelievably fast but due to the slick direction we get to see every punch and kick where you are really involved with the action.
There are some fabulous stunts so you won’t be disappointed there; Jaa also handles English pretty well and his character Tony Vitayakul is an all-round incorruptible hero. His first scene is one of the best in the movie with him taking out several thugs using a belt which will please genre fans no end.
The first half is more about story and characters but there are still several shoot-outs and the attack on Dolph’s house is a nicely executed scene.
The film’s opening is quite disturbing and sets the tone; although we don’t get any rape scenes it still manages to get the point across without feeling like a “message” movie.
Ron Perlman is gloriously nasty as the film’s antagonist Viktor Dragovic and yet he isn’t over the top; although he’s a monster he doesn’t ever feel like a carton villain and is painted more as a ruthless businessman.
Michael Jai White has some great fights as well and his character Reed has a few twists and turns. Peter Weller is a little underused but it’s still great to see him on screen with Dolph and Michael Jai White.
Celina Jade probably has the toughest role in the film; she’s an informant (and girlfriend) of Tony and there are several scenes which must have been incredibly difficult for her to film and not fight back. She deserves credit for staying in character throughout some of the harrowing moments and proves she is definitely an actress to watch.
Overall, Skin Trade isn’t the most original movie ever but it was massively entertaining with some spectacular action and a stellar cast that is a must-see for action fans.