Movie review: Chinese actors take spotlight from Stallone in 'Escape Plan 3'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Jul 12 2019 11:45 AM

"Escape Plan" (directed by Mikael Håfström) was a 2013 action film which reunited 80s action superstars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Stallone played security expert Ray Breslin who believed that he can escape from any prison ever made. I found it quite entertaining and actually smart, earning high ratings.

It had a poor sequel last year which was a big dip from the original. Now, just a year later, here's another quickie follow-up.

Daya Zhang (Malese Jow), the daughter of a ruthless Chinese tech tycoon (Russell Wong), was kidnapped and held captive in Devil's Landing, a notoriously labyrinthine prison in Latvia.

Breslin and his colleagues were hired to rescue her. The kidnapper turned out to be Lester Clark Jr. (Devon Sawa), who is avenging his father's fate in Breslin's hands years back. To make it worse for Breslin, Clark also kidnaps Rey's girlfriend, Abby (Jaime King).

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Stallone's requisite one-on-one showdown with the sadistic Clark Jr. was, of course, reserved for the very end. But then, Devon Sawa was not really made to put up much of a fight, which is a big letdown.

Max Zhang had the most prominent role among the Chinese actors as his character, Shen Lo, also played the love interest of Daya. His own fight showcase against the enemy was the most hard-hitting and bone-breaking one in the film.

This film had practically nothing to do with the first film anymore. Breslin did not have to break out of a prison anymore. He was breaking into one to rescue a kidnap victim, which made it quite generic. She could have been held in some random location and it would not have made any difference. Dave Bautista was given only one fight scene with a huge shotgun to up the gore factor. Curtis "50 Cent" Smith was barely in it at all. The other Chinese actors (even Wong) were wasted in unchallenging parts.

In "Escape Plan 2," practically 50% of the movie was carried by Chinese martial arts star Huang Xiaoming. Here in "Escape Plan 3," it was practically a Chinese movie already, around 80%.

Aside from Jow and Wong, Zhang and Harry Shum Jr. also play significant roles as security officers. Stallone, Bautista, King, and Sawa felt like they were only making guest appearances here.

I was hearing the Mandarin language being spoken in almost 50% of the script. It was a bit better than EP2, but not really by much.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."