– by Gig Patta

In today’s era of martial artists films, director Jesse V. Johnson has worked with so many renowned and respected martial artists actors in the business.

In the latest martial arts action film, he put teams of protagonists and antagonists against each other for ultimate action packed movie. The film pitted Tiger Hu Chen (House of Fury, John Wike: Chapter 3 – Parabellum), Tony Jaa (Ong-Bak, Furious 7), Iko Uwais (The Raid: Redemption, Mile 22), Celina Jade (The Man with the Iron Fists, Legendary Assassin) versus Scott Adkins (Doctor Strange, The Expendables 2), Michael J. White (Spawn, Black Dynamite) and UFC legend Michael Bisping.

Here’s the synopsis:

A down-and-out team of mercenaries must take on a group of professional assassins and stop them before they kill their target: a billionaire’s daughter intent on bringing down a major crime syndicate. This breakneck thriller teams over half a dozen of the world’s biggest action stars for the martial arts event film of the year.

LRM Online had an exclusive interview over the phone with director Jesse V. Johnson earlier this month.

Johnson has numerous action films, including The Debt Collector, Accident Man, The Beautiful Ones and Savage Dog.

Triple Threat will be in wide release for one night only tomorrow on Tuesday, March 19. And then in select theaters and VOD on Friday, March 22.

Read the exclusive interview below.

LRM: I’ve checked out the your film called Triple Threat. Tell me on what originated the a story for this film?

Jesse V. Johnson: The project came to me as an idea at that point. They had two scripts. They have the three lead actors. But, it was an idea. It was put together for Tiger Chen to have action film along the lines of The Expendables with him, Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais in the lead. When I came in, there were two scripts in which neither of which were quite right. Joey O’Bryan came in to flesh out the script . We sorted the most appropriate parts those two scripts

As we put the film together, Joey never worked in Thailand before and I had. I knew what you can do and what you can’t do in that particular location. There were certain things in the script that they’re extraordinary difficult to do in Thailand. Then other things that you can do there that you can’t do anywhere else in the world. It had to be steered to meet that location.

We had three bad guys by relative unknown and were not martial arts qualified. They never going to be doubled. That changed fairly early on when you realized that did much smarter idea to have three adversaries, who were equally well trained and capable to be put up against each other.

The script itself had to develop as the project came together in terms of location wise, casting wise and schedule wise. We had to determine on the assets we have to play. It was an organic and pragmatic process. I think it went very well.

With the actors, themselves, I wasn’t familiar with quite a few of them. I worked with with Michael Jai White and some of the stunt actors before. I’ve worked with Tiger a long time ago when he was a stuntman. We were both stuntmen on Charlie’s Angels back in 2000. It was slightly different way of putting all this together. It was very exciting. Everyone had had a say in how that character would be developed. Evervy actor worked with each other in determination on what their sensibilities, where their passions lie and what their interests are like as people. We tried that into the film as much as possible.

I don’t want it to come off like we just put the frantically wrote it the night before. There were elements like it was the night, but it wasn’t frantic at any stage. It felt very, very organic.

LRM: Why was a Thailand I’m very important for this film production. I could catch all the background actors as speaking Thai in the background.

Jesse V. Johnson: Thailand was hired before I was. [Laughs] We knew that the film was shooting in Thailand. That was part of the deal that I was handed when I came on as a director. We could not always be articulate and say that it was Thailand. There are certain things that the Thailand Film Commission does not see as beneficial. On the other hand, there are things that you can do in Thailand that you can’t do anywhere else in the world. So we used anything in abundance and were going to be interesting in the movie.

LRM: You worked with Scott Adkins and Michael Jai White before. Why do you love working with those at two gentlemen?

Jesse V. Johnson: Michael Jai White is very capable and very good actor. He also has a really good sense of humor and knowledge of form history. I get on well with the camera and this is very, very important. It helps to spend extended time in each other’s company. I was very happy that we brought Mike in and he did great. He also has a unique gift, which only a few martial artists in movies has. It is a humility that allows them to lose their character and can take a beating from another. It’s about a person to not take it personally. With so many martial artists out there, there’s a push back in the resistance. They don’t want to get beaten up. They don’t want to have anyone talk down to them. They’ve got this enormous sense of pride. It’s a bleed over from all of their days training in the gym. It’s an absolutely waste the time. I never understood it. Michael is different and an anomaly. He’s not afraid to get beaten up by women. He’s not afraid to get beaten up by guys. Michael is very, very involved in the storytelling process. It is what you want. You don’t want to have a push back and drama when you lose the fight on film.

Those are the most powerful people to have on set. They turn out their own ideas out there. Not only ideas for the fights, but also ideas to character development and dialogue. Those are the guys you want to work with.

I’ve worked with Scott multiple times before. Whenever we’re on set, the films we make our good. There is no ego here. He pushes me to be better and I pushed him to work a little harder on his acting as well. At the end of the day, it’s about putting out the best out there. And it’s fun to work with him again as well.

Triple Threat will be in wide release for one night only tomorrow on Tuesday, March 19. And then in select theaters and VOD on Friday, March 22.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive

Gig Patta is a journalist and interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review since 2009. He was a writer for other entertainment sites in the past with Collider and IESB.net. He originally came from the world of print journalism with several years as a reporter with the San Diego Business Journal and California Review. He earned his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and BA in Economics from UC San Diego. Follow him on Instagram @gigpatta or Facebook @officialgigpatta.