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Bangkok Dangerous (2008 movie)

3 Ratings: 2.0
Remake of the Pang Bros. Cult Classic starring Nicholas Cage
1 review about Bangkok Dangerous (2008 movie)

2 ½ -Stars: BIG Money in MISERY

  • Jan 9, 2009
Rating:
+2

Oxide and Danny Pang have made a name for themselves with the Asian horror film "The Eye" and more recently, "Re-Cycle". After their abysmal Hollywood outing, "The Messengers", the twin brothers have decided to give mainstream Hollywood films another try with a re-imagining of their very own low-budget cult hit "Bangkok Dangerous". This remake is titled the same and has Nicholas Cage in the lead; the two filmmakers are also armed with a bigger budget. So how does this U.S. made remake compare with the Thai original?

Joe (Nicholas Cage) is a hitman with uncanny stealth skills. Joe plans, then he kills, then he leaves without a trace after the job is done. He is sent to Thailand to carry out a series of "hits" and enlists the aid of a drifter named Kong (Shahkrit Shamnarm) to be his main messenger to his new clients. After a job, Joe is slightly wounded and stumbles upon a pharmacy where he meets a beautiful deaf-mute pharmacist (played by Charlie Yeung) who awakens a sense of conscience and sympathy within the killer-for-hire. Joe's last job is to assassinate a beloved politician, and he finds himself declining the assignment. Now he finds himself the target of the crime family and Joe must find it deep within himself to consider the safety of his newfound friends. With something to lose, Joe must kill for a different cause.

The Pang Bros. may have been labeled as innovators in Hong Kong horror, but their films are mostly a hit or miss. Their return to shallow Hollywood won't make or break their careers, and as much as I am turned off by remakes, at least the Pangs are in familiar territory. This new "Bangkok.." does have the usual Pang bros. touch and contains pretty much the same plot devices (well, not everything) but don't assume that just because it has the same directors, almost the same amount of action, that it is on par with the original.

The original had a lot of emotions. Kong is actually the hitman's name in the original "Bangkok.." and he was the deaf hitman with a good heart. The names are almost the same but some of the characters have been interchanged. The original was about revenge and a killer with a heart of gold. While this remake does try to find a conscience, the film is hampered with the severely miscast Nic Cage. I'm not sure, I'm not exactly a fan of the actor (but I don't hate him either) but I know he has his good moments such as in "Leaving Las Vegas" but I really had issues with him as the lead. His portrayal appears so robotic and the character required someone who would not stand out--someone simple who can just blend in. An American in Thailand is very conspicuous and not invisible. Also, I guess the Pangs tried to make the experience a moody and brooding one, and Cage is just too uninviting for this role.

The direction is definitely trendy and stylish. The Pangs does use the usual Hong Kong-inspired action sequences. Lots of explosions, gunfire, and armed with a bigger budget, they try to prove that they can hang with Johnnie To, John Woo, Luc Besson and Tony Scott. The Ronny Yu-inspired "blurring vision" in the original is curiously missing here. There is some decent action to be had, there is nudity, blood and some gore. The cinematography is dark, and the colors appear to be a little muted probably to convey some mood. There is a lot of eye-candy visuals and the women aren't bad to look at. Aom the dancer (played by Panward Hemmanee) is sultry and sexy; while Fon (Charlie Yeung) is the type you marry. There are some nifty nightclub scenes that will no doubt excite the male audience.

The weird thing about the film is that it truly tries to find emotion but it barely does. I really don't think Cage is the one wholly at fault, so I guess it is just a little too incoherent and too stylish. To convey effective emotion the shots have to be simple to let the characters breath and have a life of their own. There is a scene with a lot of potential for emotions when Joe kills two muggers as witnessed by Fon, but it still felt a little empty and cold. The final scene attempts to be an emotional heartbreaker but it ends up a little too perfunctory and dry, it just felt too hollow.

I guess the film just ends up a popcorn affair. It isn't a total failure but it sure isn't a good film. The film doesn't offer any truly memorable grand spectacles of gunplay, action and thrills but thank goodness it wasn't a lot messier--it could have been a lot more "dangerously" forgettable.

RENTAL [2 ½ -Stars]



single disc edition

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July 15, 2010
Yeah this one could have been way better
 
January 09, 2009
Nicholas may not be the best actor, but he had a great comic book collection! Good review. See my reviews too, bro.
 
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