Plot: Viktor (Ron Perlman) is a Serbian crime lord who heads a powerful, global human trafficking network. As this network has core business in several countries, Viktor lets his sons run the various checkpoints. He is a wanted man of course, but he comes to America to oversee a new shipment of women, as part of the initiation of one of his sons into the business. But Detective Cassidy (Dolph Lundgren) has the drop on Viktor, so he plans to swoop in and take down the kingpin. While Viktor’s son is killed in the shootout, the boss himself manages to avoid prosectution, but before he flees, he lashes out at Cassidy for payback. His house is burned down, his family is killed, and Cassidy himself is barely alive. Now driven by blind vengeance, Cassidy sets out to take out Viktor and his entire operation, with his own hands. But as he soon discovers, Viktor has more power than he could have ever imagined.
Entertainment Value: This movie has its heart in the right place, as it is obvious the human traffic epidemic was an inspiration. Dolph Lundgren helped write this one and he has an intense personal involvement in the movement to end the slave trade, but in this case, the movie tends to slip into action over substance. So the message gets lost in the shuffle, but at the same time, Skin Trade is a fun, b movie style action flick that is a blast to watch. In addition to Lundgren, the movie also boasts Michael Jai White and Tony Jaa, so the fight scenes are a lot of fun. I found the dynamic between Lundgren and Jaa to be quite fun, given the drastic size difference and the contrast in styles, so those were quite cool, I think. The movie also has chase scenes, explosions, and such, but the limited budget is often obvious, though a late in the game helicopter stunt looked much better than expected. The performances are passable outside of the action scenes, with Ron Perlman providing a capable villain. The movie does put some focus on the horrors of the slave trade, with some harrowing moments, but they’re infrequent and not a prominent part of the narrative. So as a social rallying call, the movie falls short, but as a fun, b movie style action flick, Skin Trade is recommended.
A couple brief topless scenes, but that’s all the nakedness. The movie takes place in a world of sleaze, cheap sex, and sexual slavery, but it plays it safe on the sleaze aspects for some reason. Perhaps the anti-slave trade message would have been lessened, or so they thought. A little blood, but no real graphic moments to speak of. The fights yield the usual blood and damage, while gun shots provide a little red stain here and there, but not much intense bloodshed. But I think the movie does well in those action scenes, given the limited resources involved. The fights are fast paced and kinetic, with less stunt doubles than usual, while the set pieces are small scale, but still effective. A nice mix of styles with White, Jaa, and Lundgren involved. The dialogue is passable, but never really embraces the b movie vibes. As a result, no real wild moments or one liners, as even Perlman keeps his villain reeled in. As for craziness, this one is a pretty standard action/revenge movie in most ways, so aside from the sex trade angle, not much stands out as unusual.
Overall Insanity: 1/10