Movie Review for Bangkok Dangerous (2008)

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Review #681 of 365
Movie Review of Bangkok Dangerous (2008) [R] 99 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $11.00
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When Seen: 7 September 2008 @ 5:15 pm
DVD Release Date: Unscheduled (please check back)
After the Credits: There is nothing after the credits.

Soundtrack: Download now from Brian Tyler - Bangkok Dangerous (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - or - order the CD below

Directed by: Oxide Pang Chun (The Messengers) • Danny Pang (The Messengers)
Screenplay by: Jason Richman (Swing Vote) based on 1999 film by Oxide Pang Chung and Danny Pang

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Nicolas Cage (National Treasure: Book of Secrets) • Shahkrit Yamnarm (Bicycles & Radios) • Charlie Yeung (Chat Gim) • Panward Hemmanee (Hor taew tak )

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Officially, Bangkok Dangerous inaugurates the fall film season, traditionally the season responsible for the most Best Picture nominees in any given year. Yet, if the Pang Bros. film foretells the future of what's to come, we've already seen all of this year's nominees. Gulp! Maybe it was moved from an original August film date not due to studio confidence that it belonged in September, but because August was already chock full of similarly barely watchable, unmemorable films. If anyone had asked me I'd probably never have believed I'd rate a Jason Statham, video gameesque apocalyptic action film higher than a Nicolas Cage action thriller. Oh well, there's a first time for everything.

Based on their 1999 Thai film of the same name, the Pang Brothers have updated their film for USAer audiences and cast the most peculiarly coiffed Nic Cage ever in the leading role of a mysterious hired assassin named Joe on what he hopes will be his last "job". He heads to Bangkok to carry out four assassinations following the strict code of assassination, rules his mentor taught him. He hires a local named Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm) for 3000 baht a day using honed instincts after just one trip to the night market. Kong learns his rules the hard way, and he won't get paid if hr deviates even slightly from protocols or expectations. He does offer one prophetic piece of advice despite the reluctance of his new boss to listen to anyone but his inner voice, that the elephant portrait in the foyer of his secluded rental house has the trunk pointing down and is, therefore, bad luck for him—prophetic words he fails to heed.

The first execution goes according to plan but with one slight problem causing Joe to get a bit scratched up. A visit to the local pharmacist for antibiotics introduces him to a young, deaf Thai woman as beautiful as she is sweet named Fon (Charlie Yeung). She provides him with an ointment not realizing she is simultaneously working her way into his subconscious. But, that's not all, Kong too is working his way in, and after Joe kills a "really bad man" (assassination number two) Kong suddenly realizes he wants in. Not on more of the money, in on the profession.

…weight of the story unravels or implodes on itself, leaving sort of a vacuous, empty feeling of dissatisfaction…
He begs Joe to teach him treating him like a modern day Robin Hood; and, for some reason, Joe agrees. Little by little, he starts transferring his training and skills to his young apprentice whom he's grown to trust. Nearly simultaneously he decides to start seeing Fon and invites her on a date that she accepts. Things, in other words, start to get complicated and deviate largely from the hard and fast rules of his unseen master teacher. This only gets worse when the real boss, the one who hired Joe, starts to feel he needs to know who the assassin is and have a back-up plan in case things start to get messy.

On the surface, once your brain engages a filter to block out the image of Mr. Cage's hair—hair he may just have borrowed from Tom Hanks, the story and plot seem pretty good. Unfortunately, the description makes them sound better than they are in practice. While the story is decent and the acting mostly effective, the methodical pacing and grim outcomes of each assassination dampen the spirit of this film projecting, probably, as Joe's unflinching fate. The film should work, and yet it doesn't. There are many things to blame from the aforementioned hair to the writer's inability to get greater understanding of Joe's past into the story so that, eventually, there might be some reason to care more about him. If you find yourself caring you are able to take greater leaps of faith than others. Truly, no doubt, Joe is a tortured soul with Kong emerging as the son he never had and Fon the love held. His character does develop, eventually, and this makes the shocking ending all the more disappointing—not so much for the outcome which was quite plausible, but for the inability of the character to reach any emotional closure. Ultimately, the weight of the story unravels or implodes on itself, leaving sort of a vacuous, empty feeling of dissatisfaction for Bangkok Dangerous. That and a strong urge to visit your nearby Aveda School and get your hair done properly.

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Cast Members
Nicolas CageShahkrit YamnarmCharlie Yeung
Panward Hemmanee
Oxide Pang Chun () • Danny Pang
Jason Richman

Review-lite Bangkok Dangerous (2008) [max of 150 words]
The Pang Brothers remake one of their 1999 film classics, Bangkok Dangerous for USA audiences staring Nicolas Cage as the assassin who takes on what he hope will be his final job—four hits all in Bangkok. He could not foresee that, despite his letter perfect training, he would break the cardinal rules and start to get too close to those he meets on the scene, his young apprentice, Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm), and the beautiful, deaf pharmacist, Fon (Charlie Yeung) who will cloud not just his conscience but his confidence. Ther result is an uneven, dark film with a largely disappointing ending that will leave you with a vacuous, empty feeling of dissatisfaction for Bangkok Dangerous.

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