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Skin Traffik Review

Skin Traffik is an action film about a hitman who embarks on a quest to save a young girl from the clutches of the brutal gangsters who trade human beings as currency.

Director Ara Paiaya clearly is a fan of action, his movies a string of set-pieces and stunt work that have come to define his style, with this year’s Instant Death easily his most accomplished work yet, buoyed by its strong leading characters. It’s a pretty good film, and I highly-recommend it. Recently, Paiaya invited me to take a look at an older film of his called Skin Traffik, a movie made two years ago that stars an impressive cast of well-knowns and features loads of just what I expected. It’s B-movie fodder and for fans of such will have plenty to satisfy.

We meet Bradley (Gary Daniels), who is very good at what he does. What does he do? He’s a hitman, and like most in the movies, possesses remarkable skills for dispatching targets in gruesome and clever ways while weighted by numerous burdens. His latest job puts him on the path of a crime boss named Vogel (Mickey Rourke) who has in his safe a data disk with some very important information that Bradley’s boss (Eric Roberts) is desperate to retrieve. Being who Bradley is, he completes the job, but not without consequences, something that a half a year later still haunts him. Dealing with this, he soon finds himself trying to save a young woman named Anna (Dominique Swain) who is being pimped out by some real baddies, hoping to rescue her sister (Sarah Coyle) from some monsters who deal with human sex trafficking.

Written by Paiaya and Adam Davidson, Skin Traffik is pretty familiar stuff, as it’s probably intended to be, with a rogue hero who is by the nature of his lifestyle a criminal yet one we are compelled to follow as he is pushed to the high road. Daniels is appropriately bulky and stoic, keeping Bradley more a man about punching than talking, a defining characteristic of most in the genre. His performance lacks the earnestness though that I felt for Lou Ferrigno in Instant Death, never really pulling me totally on board with his motivations. He’s drawn into conflict almost out necessity after witnessing Anna and another young woman on the street abused by their handlers, but refuses to act until Anna literally pounds on the door for his help. He does the right thing of course, but there is far less personal investment in it as compared with Instant Death.

Either way, probably most who come to a film like this aren’t all that interested in the subtlety of the story but rather the momentum of the action. There’s plenty of it and surely, Paiaya likes this best when it comes to making movies. He stages fights and car stunts very well, even if seaming them together feels loose. Many will be surprised at the cast, who, aside from those mentioned, include Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, Jeff Fahey, and Alan Ford. Few really interact with Daniels, and all sort of have a disjointed patchwork quality about it that often break a feeling of cohesiveness. Paiaya himself has a part, and if you pay attention to the credits, you’ll find his name in a number of other roles in making the film. This is clearly a personal passion project. While I didn’t enjoy the movie as much as his latest film, I do appreciate its ambitions and like how I can already see growth in Paiaya as a filmmaker in the two years that separate these movies. For that reason alone, I would say a back-to-back viewing could be entertaining for B-movie action fans.

Skin Traffik Review

Movie description: Skin Traffik is an action film about a hitman who embarks on a quest to save a young girl from the clutches of the brutal gangsters who trade human beings as currency.

Director(s): Ara Paiaya

Actor(s): Daryl Hannah, Mickey Rourke, Dominique Swain

Genre: Action

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