Film Review: Jailbreak

Director and co-writer Jimmy Henderson’s Jailbreak is a fun and sometimes silly action thriller. The fight choreography is great, but is let down by other aspects.

A special task force are charged with escorting a key witness to a notorious jail. Would should be a straightforward mission turns to chaos, with a bounty on the witness’s head and a jail full of dangerous prisoners…

Jailbreak is pretty much Cambodia’s version of The Raid. There are many similarities between the two films, although Henderson’s film lacks the panache of the Indonesian film. Jailbreak‘s one-note plot revolves around the effort of the task force to locate and protect Playboy, the criminal turned witness, from the various dangers in the prison. There are flashes of something more gripping, but these peter out. For example, the female antagonist and her band of cohorts make for a more interesting big villain. Yet the music video-style sequence is so out of place, it detracts from a more interesting concept.

Really, Jailbreak is all about the fight sequences. And there are plenty of these. Choreography is great, making the most of the skilled participants. Particular highlights are the sequences involving Jean-Paul Ly and Tharoth Sam, even if their acting does not live up to their martial arts skills. Sequences are well executed, even if production values let them down.

In the haste to concentrate on the fighting bodies, other aspects get left to the wayside. Camera work is functional but without flair, whilst lighting and editing offers little in terms of visual appeal. The music can be ill-fitting also. Dialogue is not the film’s strong suit, whilst the slapstick humour grows tired quickly.

Jailbreak offers high-octane action, which does entertain sufficiently well. By the final third, these scenes become a little flat without the visual aesthetics to bolster the great choreography. Henderson’s film is mostly fun, but not overly striking.

Jailbreak is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017.

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