Bangkok Dangerous (2008)

Bangkok Dangerous (2008)

Film review by: Witney Seibold

Bangkok Dangerous 1

The Pang Brothers, Danny and Oxide, remake their own 1999 film, this time with Nicolas Cage in the central role. Man oh man, is this a stupid movie. In the original film, the main character, a hitman, was a deaf mute and considered the best in the business. In this one, Joe (Cage) can speak and hear, but has a relationship with a deaf mute Thai pharmacist (Panward Hemmanee), keeping his isolating inability to communicate limited to the one person he cares about.

Oh, he also grows close to a street thug named Kong (Shahkrit Yomnarm) whom he reluctantly and paternally begins to groom as a replacement. The scenes where he “trains” Kong are straight from any training montage in a 1980s action flick. Why does he do this? Um… so we can show he has a heart between his brutal kills, I suppose.

Bangkok Dangerous 2

There’s a lot of beautiful photography of Bangkok, and we slink about the soggy streets with a local’s familiarity. Joe is there to complete three major hits, the money from which will support his hoped retirement. Anyone who has seen an action flick in the last 35 years knows that the phrase “just this one last job, and then I retire” is equal to saying “I will die before this movie is finished.”

Joe has a sneaky way of going about business, making sure he never meets his contacts, even when they try to follow him. He’s handy on a motorcycle, and, in one sequence, chases a speeding gondola on a motorcycle on the nearby pier. We can tell that Joe is a tormented soul by the moody sax on the film’s soundtrack, and the dreary, slow-mo photography. He only becomes warm when the aforementioned pharmacist begins to make eyes at him. He even manages to go out on a few dates with this woman, although the dinner conversation leaves much to be desired.

Eventually, his newfound warmth leads to believe that being a hitman is not a necessarily good way to live, and makes a final righteous gesture to help every “good” character, and shoot and kill every “bad” character in an extended action sequence.

The one thing that makes this film so bizarre is the presence of Cage. Had it been just about any other performer, “Bangkok Dangerous” would have been boilerplate action fluff not worth a second glance. The sight of Cage, though, with this strange, greasy hairdo, odd western swagger, and tall lanky body towering way above the heads of his Thai co-stars, makes “Bangkok Dangerous” into forgettable and dumb boilerplate action fluff with a pleasingly surreal edge. Cage makes it seem like the film almost takes place in another universe. This surreality is not enough to make the film good by any means, but it certainly makes it bearable.

A lot of people have come down hard on Nicolas Cage in recent years for some of his odd choices. I support the man. I think he’s always interesting to watch (if not always good), and he brings a slight twinge of insanity to everything he does, making him immensely appealing. That insanity in his performance has, natch, made many think he’s actually insane.

Well, if, in future, Cage is caught on his lawn wearing nothing but galoshes, shooting his neighbors’ trees, I’m going to want to be there with him.

Published in: on May 13, 2009 at 10:10 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. Bangkok Dangerous (2008) is a great remake of the Pang Brothers earlier film that is fully realised IF one options for the alternative ending which allows Nicholas Cage’s character to kill Surat and survive with the help of his pupil Kong.

    The theater-ending chosen to moralistically warn us of bad karma awaiting those who choose the killing path is pure Hollywood preachy bullshit! If YOU think that sensitivity and compssion cannot reside in the same person with a call to the killing profession, you are as ignorant and stupid as they are!

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