life of an anonymous assassin takes an unexpected turn when
he travels to Thailand to complete a series of contract killings.
Joe (Nicolas Cage), a remorseless hitman, is in Bangkok to
execute four enemies of a ruthless crime boss named Surat.
He hires Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm), a street punk and pickpocket,
to run errands for him with the intention of covering his
tracks by killing him at the end of the assignment. Strangely,
Joe, the ultimate lone wolf, instead finds himself mentoring
the young man while simultaneously being drawn into a tentative
romance with a local shop girl. As he falls further under
the sway of Bangkok's intoxicating beauty, Joe begins to question
his isolated existence and let down his guard... just as Surat
decides it's time to clean house.
Produced and starring a certain Hollywood star Nicolas Cage, "Bangkok Dangerous" is a remake of the Pang Brothers’ 1999 cult hit of the same name or should I say a Westernized version of it.
The basis of the original story has been revamped to suit Cage’s ego and it tells the story of an assassin named Joe (Cage) who travels to Thailand to execute four killings but along the way finds himself falling in love with a deaf and mute pharmacist Fon (Charlie Yeung) and mentoring his errand boy, Kong betraying the four rules he was taught.
With the exception of "The Eye", I was never a fan of The Pang Brothers. The brothers were a prolific pair but they have more misses than hits and their shallow attempt at creating a melancholy-like killer in "Bangkok" fails to capture the hearts of audience. Cage, the once poster boy for indie movies has in recent years falter in the box-office arena. Although he is competent in his usual woeful mode here, the lackluster script did little justice to a man who has a sudden change of hearts after years of making a comfortable living being an assassin. Joe claims to see himself in Kong thus propels him not to kill him but takes him under his mentorship. But damn, as far as we know, Joe only encountered Kong like twice.
Frequent Pang’s collaborator, cinematographer Decha Srimantra at least did a decent job in capturing the beauty of the exotic country. The busy night scenes, landmarks and symbolisms of Thailand are captured beautifully on screen including the ever famous tom yum soup which has a closeup shot as well.
The action sequences on the whole were decent to the novice not exactly great. Most noteworthy is the riverboat chase. While never reaching the climax of fellow Thai action star Tony Jaa’s "Tom Yum Goong", it’s compelling enough. The rest of the gunplays were a disaster though. Perhaps the great maestro of guns, John Woo himself should act as a consultant to the Pang Brothers. The last 15 minutes were shot mostly in the dark and in shades of blue and red, you can’t really make out where Joe is and where the baddies are.
"Bangkok Dangerous" smells like a direct-to-video flick, Cage’s intentions to work with Asian talents were commendable but still you wonder what on earth possessed an A-list actor liked him to accept a mediocre script and production like this. This is a serious case of lost through translation.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
Making of Bangkok Dangerous – Interviews with the cast and crew make up this 13 minutes feature. Most notably the Pang Brothers laughing at themselves over their broken English.
Alternate Ending – This is a far more mainstream ending to the theatrical one. But seriously why do the Pang Brothers include the scene where Kong is standing alone at the pier before the closing credits in the theatrical version? At least it makes more sense here.
Presented in 16x9 letterbox, the visual brings out the grittiness and the intended dark shades of the movie. The Dolby Digital 5.1 is excellent when it comes to the gunplay, audio as always is an excellent aspect of a Pang Brothers’ production.
by Linus Tee