Fantasia Film Festival 2017 Review: JAILBREAK

Cambodia smashes its way onto the Asian action scene with JAILBREAK


For me, one of the highlights of this year’s Fantasia Film Festival is Cambodian actioner JAILBREAK.

Playboy,  a high profile criminal and a member of the notorious Butterfly Gang has been arrested. Scared that he will crack under pressure, the leader of the crime syndicate wants him dead.  This boss is deadly, she likes her whiskey, likes to dress in leather and likes to slice people up with her katana.

4-elite cops, the best on the force are given the job to transport Playboy to a maximum security prison. A riot breaks out setting loose all of the murderers, thieves and rapists…we even get a cannibal thrown in for good measure. Trapped with no way out, it’s up to our 4 ass-kickers to keep Playboy alive, and more importantly, themselves.

Jailbreak Fantasia 2017 review

I would’ve  preferred if Playboy was evil and left a trail of bodies in his wake. Instead, he hides, cries, mumbles and moans. As far as complaints go, this isn’t anything to worry about.

It wasn’t long into the movie before we learn that the name of Cambodian martial arts is called,  Bokator. Just like Muay Thai, Bokator deals with heavy blows from knees and elbows. It looks vicious as hell, it’s great to see another form of martial arts on-screen

Jailbreak rounds up some of the best fighters Cambodia has to offer. Talent ranging from Bokator coaching to a female MMA fighter (also the ambassador for the ancient martial arts of Cambodia). Actor,  Jean-Paul Ly also works as a stuntman as has featured in big-budget features such Marvel’s Doctor Strange, and Lucy.

Jailbreak Fantasia 2017 review

The great thing about JAILBREAK

it’s very much a traditional martial arts film, full of hand-to-hand combat. A film that explores the Cambodian martial arts, showing its beauty, brutality and ferocious power. The fight scenes are choreographed to perfection, and the narrow prison corridors set the perfect playground for this bone-crunching mayhem to take place.

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I don’t think there is one bullet fired in the whole movie, the main weapon is the police baton. To watch these guys use it as a deadly weapon makes you think twice about fucking with the Cambodian police force.

Although not perfect, JAILBREAK is still one hell of an achievement.  A new, welcomed edition to the Asian action scene.

Jimmy Henderson and Michael Hodgson’s story needs to be explored further. I have my fingers crossed for Jailbreak 2.

An instant action classic, JAILBREAK has more than earned its place beside The Raid and Ong Bak.


Gary Gamble

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