Review

'Skin Trade' turns serious issue into bare-knuckle brawl

Review: 'Skin Trade' uses the issue of human trafficking as the backdrop to a series of fistfights among cops

Dolph Lundgren and Tony Jaa team up for an international human-trafficking investigation in "Skin Trade," but first, they don't waste the opportunity to beat each other to a pulp.

New Jersey cop Nick Cassidy (Lundgren) kills a son of Serbian crime lord Viktor Dragovic (Ron Perlman) in a port terminal shootout. In retaliation, goons set Nick's home ablaze and eliminate his family. So he goes rogue and travels to Bangkok, Thailand, on a mission to take down Viktor and his other sons. Agent Eddie Reed (Michael Jai White) of the FBI also arrives on the scene, enlisting the assistance of local detective Tony Vitayakui (Jaa) to impede Nick.

This is the kind of movie where cops self-righteously act as judge, jury and executioner, never mind procedure or protocols. If bare-knuckle fights are what you seek, director Ekachai Uekrongtham certainly delivers. But the film scarcely scratches the surface of the horrors of human trafficking.

Jaa does get the kind of romantic story line that eluded seemingly asexual Asian action heroes like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li, so at least this genre has taken one baby step forward.

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"Skin Trade"

MPAA rating: R, for strong violence, disturbing sexual content, nudity, drug use, language.

Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes.

Playing: Sundance Sunset, Los Angeles.

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