"Bangkok Dangerous" shoots and misses

Sept. 8, 2008, midnight | By Jeremy Gradwohl | 12 years, 1 month ago

Action movie remake brings nothing new to the table

"Bangkok Dangerous" rehashes an all-too-common Hollywood action flick plot: cold-blooded assassin discovers love and compassion, which ultimately interferes with his job. The movie does not offer any new plot twists or any fresh perspective about hired killing. The lack of originality, while masked through intricate fight sequences and progressive cinematography, leaves the audience with cynicism.

A hitman, Joe (Nicolas Cage), is contracted by a group of Bangkok gangsters to kill four people. He hires a pickpocket named Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm) to assist him in these killings. Although Joe promises himself to never emotionally involve himself with people in his line of work, he decides to mentor Kong because Joe sees Kong as a younger version of himself. Joe also meets and falls in love with a beautiful mute girl, Fon. After the first three assassinations go smoothly, Joe quarrels with his clients when he learns that his fourth kill is supposed to be a well-respected politician. When Kong and Fon are kidnapped by the gangsters, Joe has to choose whether to save them or to flee Bangkok.

As bland as the plot is, the action in "Bangkok Dangerous" is exciting. Cage deftly kills bad guy after bad guy in white-knuckle gunfights. The directors, Danny and Oxide Chun Pang, manage to salvage the movie with exciting and intriguing cinematography. Showdowns throughout the streets of Bangkok kept the audience's hearts racing, while a few integrated comedic scenes add a lighter mood to the dark film. The movie was also filmed in Bangkok, adding authenticity.

The movie is a remake of a 1999 Thai film of the same title and directors, the Pang brothers. In the original, the assassin is mute, making him stolid and deadly at his job. Unfortunately, such originality is not replicated in most Hollywood action films where pandering to an assumed audience comes before inspired plotlines. As the directors told the International Herald Tribune, "...from a marketing point of view, we need to give Nic some lines." The deaf and dumb attributes of the original assassin were instead tacked onto his love interest in "Bangkok Dangerous," striping away all the character development the original film had.

Cage's usual monotonous delivery works with his dry character. The rest of the acting, however, fails to capture the audience and sets "Bangkok Dangerous" in the same genre of "just bang, no body" action films. The Pang brothers seem to exaggerate their vision of Bangkok as a corrupt and dangerous city.

Cage, although an Academy Award winner, seems to play the same cold and focused typecast. Cage played Yuri Orlov, an arms dealer who doesn't care that his guns are used for genocide in "Lord of War." Similarly, he played David Spritz, who has a failing personal life because he is too career-oriented and unable to hold stable relationships, in "The Weather Man." This stereotype is simply elaborated upon in "Bangkok Dangerous."

The thrills do not even out the many failures of "Bangkok Dangerous," ultimately drowning under its poorly executed premise and unappealing character development and chemistry.

"Bangkok Dangerous" (99 minutes) is rated R for violence, language and some sexuality and is now playing at the Majestic, the Regal Bethesda and the Regal Hyattsville Royale.

Jeremy Gradwohl. Jeremy is a good, upstanding citizen. He likes the city of Takoma Park, baseball, good music and the Orioles back in the day when they had Cal Ripken Jr. Nature also plays a big part in his life. More »

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