Cambodian action film ‘Jailbreak’ delivers wicked action, weak laughs

Justin Jones

Two parts brutal action film and one part parody, director Jimmy Henderson’s “Jailbreak” is only a few tonal choices away from perfection.

Bokator, a traditional Cambodian martial art, has never been given a cinematic chance to shine. Between Kung Fu, Muay Thai and even Malaysian martial art Pencak Silat, audiences have shown a hunger for more brilliant forms of hand-to-hand combat. The Bokator-filled action in “Jailbreak” succeeds on every front, far superior to Western hand-to-hand action movies, though it fails to reach the brilliant highs of fellow martial arts films “The Raid” and “Killzone 2.”

The plot in martial arts films rarely matters, and this film is no exception. A team of police officers are tasked with escorting a white collar criminal out of a prison gone mad, so they fight their way out. It is simple and hard to mess up, but Henderson attempts to blend a humorous element on the verge of self-parody, making fun of the exact kind of martial arts film that “Jailbreak” is.

The tonal whiplash of attempting to create something that is a frequently parody of itself leads to thinly sketched characters and consistently flat humor. It’s only when these actors are battling that the film falls into place, and in that arena, “Jailbreak” really shines.

Cambodian Action film “Jailbreak” is a cartoonish, badass film, jam-packed with brilliant violence and humor that doesn’t always land.


  • “Jailbreak”
  • Rating: Not yet rated
  • Runtime: 92 minutes
  • Score: 4/5 stars