Truth be told, I've never gotten into the whole Asian cinema thing. I've seen and appreciated many Asian films over time, but I've never understood the hardcore unfeigned love for it. Quentin Tarantino would be disappointed in me. Nevertheless, I'm always open to trying new cinematic things. As I sat down to watch 'Triple Tap,' I expected a bloody violent good time – only that movie never came. Instead, I watched two hours of subtitled direct-to-DVD mediocrity that resembles the terrible American action/suspense flicks of the '80s.
It was obvious to me from the opening sequence that 'Triple Tap' wasn't going to speak to me. The opening sequence shows two shooters participating in a marksmen competition. The way this tension-less action was put on screen made me laugh. Even not knowing director Derek Yee beforehand, it is completely obvious that he is heavily influenced by John Woo's action flicks – constantly trying too hard to make things look cool, from running through a kiddie pool to loading a clip.
One of the shooters sets a new course record (which is odd because if the course changes for each competition, how would the times be compared from course to course?), nearly every shot being a double tap. When out second shooter races through it, he not only breaks the new record but pulls off an impressive triple tap, which is comparable to a bowler walking away with a 300. Our first shooter, Jerry Chong, walks away somewhat disappointed, but the new champion, Kevin Kwan, leaves the competition in a much stranger way – he doesn't even seem to care.
While driving home, emotionless Kevin witnesses several robbers assaulting an armored truck (which is actually a crappy minivan). When a motorcycle traffic cop shows up on the scene, knowing that the assailants will open fire on him, Kevin readies his nerdy scoped pistol and unloads on the robbers. Even with his heroic attempt, one bad guy gets away – but not without putting a slug through the helmet of the motorcycle cop.
When the rest of the police force arrives, Kevin is taken into custody for questioning and we learn that his runner-up at the competition is the detective assigned to lead the case. The more Jerry gets into the case, the closer he comes to finding out who was behind the heist, but not without believing that Kevin's involvement wasn't a coincidence. After losing to Kevin on the physical competition on the course, Jerry begins a mental competition with him where the loser will likely face death. To emphasize how lame it gets, I'll tell you of a scene where Kevin gets in an angry and scared state of self-preservation and the movie literally jumps into first-person shooter mode. The effect is so bad that it makes 'Doom' look brilliant.
If you've seen either of the two trailers for 'Triple Tap,' you're expecting a full-on action flick – which couldn't be farther from reality. There's really only one shoot-out in the whole movie – the attack on the armored van. Aside from the opening competition, the only time we see our two marksmen shoot it out is during a fantasy dream sequence towards the end. There is almost no action in 'Triple Tap,' which is exceptionally disappointing based on the film's title and the fact that it's the story of two sharp shooters. Instead, 'Triple Tap' tries being a psychological cat and mouse cop drama. It's like watching 'Face/Off' if Nic Cage and John Travolta had never actually faced-off, the action being replaced with courtroom drama, stock market mumbo jumbo and an emotionless love triangle.
The laziest form of scriptwriting is using the “wool over the eyes” method. Lo and behold, 'Triple Tap' fully relies on it. When Jerry finally pieces everything together, we see scenes from earlier in the movie, only as they “really happened,” meaning that what we were shown wasn't real at all. Showing major events in the film as they didn't happen is misleading. While watching 'Triple Tap,' don't even bother trying to crack the case on your own because it's impossible. Nothing is as it seems – literally.
The design elements of 'Triple Tap' had me chuckling the whole time. I've never seen better dressed average people in my life. If detectives in the U.S. wore the same uber-trendy clothes as Jerry, shirtless firefighters wouldn't find work in posing for calendars anymore. They'd all be replaced by GQ cops.
For a movie trying to be accurately sound (if you watch the special feature interviews, they about how realistic it is), it throws typical cliches of misconception into the mix. For example, as any marksman would know, if you're trying to accurately hit a target, you don't hold the gun sideways like a '90s gangster.
But the funniest bits of 'Triple Tap' came from this odd unexplained mentor character that Jerry goes to for advice on the case. Think of it as his own personal clairvoyant Hannibal Lecter. While this character is not supposed to be insane, the actor (who resembles a Chinese Eric Bana) sure plays it that way. This “wise man” sums up the story by referring to it as a “tug of war between logic and emotion.” I sum the movie up by calling it a tug of war between boredom and sleepiness.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Well Go USA has placed 'Triple Tap' on Region A-locked BD-25 in two-disc semi-eco-friendly blue keepcase that also comes with a DVD version of the film. Upon inserting the disc, you're forced to watch an FBI warning, a Well Go USA vanity reel and slew of trailers ('1911 Revolution,' 'A Better Tomorrow,' 'The Stool Pigeon,' 'The Man From Nowhere') that you cannot bypass with the “skip” button, you must hit the “menu” button to get past them.
Initially, the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer of 'Triple Tap' comes across as perfectly clean, sharp, crisp and detailed with a beautiful little amount of grain, but before long it starts showing its flaws.
First off, while the case claims that 'Triple Tap' is presented in a 16x9 aspect ratio (1.78:1), it's actually in a wide 2.40:1 – but the picture itself has some framing issues. On all four sides of the picture, there a line several pixels wide that frames the picture. Because of the black bars on the top and bottom of the picture, it's most noticeable there. The line isn't white nor colored, but echos nearest pixels of the picture like the generic side pillars of an HD newscast that faintly echoes the image when showing 4:3 footage. This problem isn't terribly distracting, but it is noticeable.
The print itself is genuinely noise-free, but after the first ten minutes, white specks of grime and dirt become evident. You might notice them here and there, but when there's a tragically large explosion of them accompanied by scratches around the 45:30 mark, you'll definitely notice it. Fortunately, it only lasts about a minute, then gradually calms down to the previously normal amount of specks. Banding and artifacts quietly rear their ugly little heads during a few dissolving transitions.
Amidst the bad, there is still some good. Detail is wildly vivid – so much so that it causes the film's low budget flaws to stick out like a sore thumb. In extreme close-ups, you can not only see the individual facial pores, but also the make-up on the faces of our two leads. Whenever Kevin gets "in the zone," an embarrassingly terrible CG "heat wave" effect ripples across the screen.
The contrast of 'Triple Tap' is noteworthy. Overall, it's a very bright film. The whites are as white as can be and the blacks are deep and rich. The muted palette rarely features vibrant colors. Blood is thick and black-ish, matching the gray tones of the film. Fleshtones also match the palette by staying on the pale side.
'Triple Tap' features both it's original Cantonese audio track and a dubbed English audio track in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio form. Like most, I prefer to listen to foreign films in their native language, which is the wise thing to do with 'Triple Tap' because each time I switched over to sample the English dubs, the vocal audio was flat and painfully unfitting. The lossless Cantonese audio is the opposite, it's full and dynamic.
Because the majority of the action takes place in the beginning of 'Triple Tap,' the well-mixed audio instantly grabs your attention. The channels are utilized in such a way that motion-oriented sounds like gunshots and speeding cars seem to smoothly travel across the room. When an office full of appreciate traffic cops see Kevin after his heroic act, a staggered applause erupts from each of the channels.
The mix itself fantastically balances the vocals with the sound effects and cheesy score. The dynamic range between loud and quiet moments is decent, but could have better high and low peaks. Bass is utilized is a perfect fashion, always sounding deep and resonant, yet never overpowering.
The special features have that annoying continuous play function that causes them all to play in order one after the other. When you're finished watching the deleted scenes, the interviews will automatically start playing. After the interviews, the two trailers play back-to-back. Sure, we're going to watch them all, but let us choose the order we want to watch them in.
For a guy who doesn't much care for Asian cinema, 'Triple Tap' sure didn't help in making me want to further explore it. With trailers that promise a super stylized action-filled film, to watch it unfold with a plot polluted by absolute nonsense and really only two brief action sequences, it's a major let-down. The real topper is how the movie fools you into believing what you've already seen when the twist ending reveals that several of pivotal moments didn't go down like we were shown, making it impossible to solve the mystery on your own. And just the like movie itself, the video quality is a major let-down with its odd framing and its dirty specks and scratches. The audio is the only aspect of this Blu-ray that maintains its integrity, but good audio does not a good movie make.