Mercifully held back from advance screenings for critics the creators of Bangkok Dangerous should have gone one step further and kept it from general audiences as well. In this lame remake of their own 1999 thriller of the same name Hong Kong directors The Pang Brothers lose something in the translation as they put Nicolas Cage in the center of the action. This time Cage is an anonymous hitman who makes a beeline from a job in Prague to Thailand so he can to do in several enemies of evil crime chieftain Surat (Nirattisai Kaljaruek). Along the way he enlists a local street kid Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm) to help out and soon finds himself teaching him the tricks of the trade. Romance also rears its ugly head when he falls for a deaf girl (Charlie Yeung) who only complicates matters for the killer when Surat takes matters a step further than our hero is anticipating. Cage seems to have lost his mojo in recent years which would be the only explanation as to why this fine Oscar-winning actor would subject himself repeatedly to the likes of dogs such as Next Ghost Rider and The Wicker Man. Now with this pointless remake of Bangkok Dangerous he’s hit rock bottom sleepwalking through the role. Cage just doesn’t have a handle on how to play this guy or engage the audience in any way which is a shame since the exotic locale and basic premise could have held promise. Instead the star is forced into silly subplots including a nonsensical romance with a pharmacist played with one expression by the lovely Yeung. It’s hard to imagine this relationship since the pair appear to have zero chemistry on screen and you have to wonder how she would ever be attracted to a guy with particularly bad hair. Yamnarm is OK in the contrived street tough role who is mentored by Cage’s assassin-for-hire. The rest of the cast mostly local actors plays it by the book. It’s not hard to figure out why the successful Pang Brothers directing team would want to revisit their own films for the American market since remakes of their other movies like The Eye and particularly Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning The Departed (derived from the Pang’s Infernal Affairs) have been quite successful. Unfortunately Bangkok just doesn’t work--a by-the-numbers retread that’s ill-conceived as an action vehicle for Cage. His assassin has been unwisely shoehorned into the lead role while in the original it was the deaf mute girl. Apparently no one thought it would be wise to put Cage in that scenario but by making him a standard movie hitman they have diluted what made their own original premise work in the first place. Making matters worse the technical aspects of the film are to be kind weak. Decha Srimantra’s washed-out cinematography fails to make use of the colorful locations and the major fight/chase sequences are poorly shot and executed. For a pure action film there is surprisingly little compelling action. As the film’s advertising tagline suggests “It’s all in the execution”. In this case it’s the “execution” that’s sorely lacking.
Wong Kar Mun (Lee Sin-Je) has been blind since the age of two. After 18 years she has fully adapted to her disability never knowing what she has missed. Until that is a new medical procedure gives her her sight back through an advanced corneal transplant. The young girl finally enters the world of light and images but has trouble comprehending what she sees. She doesn't understand what is real and what is not because she has no point of reference. But that isn't all. Mun sees more with her new eyes than she expected--Mun sees dead people. Almost going mad from the constant stream of apparitions before her Mun suddenly discovers to her horror that the image she thought was herself is in fact another woman--Ling (Chutcha Rujinanon) the corneas' original owner. Mun realizes she is recalling Ling's memories and seeing through her eyes--literally. With her boyfriend/psychotherapist Lee Sin (Lawrence Chou) Mun travels to Thailand in search for answers on who Ling was as well as unravel the mystery of her death.
All the other characters being peripheral to Mun's circumstances Lee Sin-Je amply carries the whole movie on her own making her blindness totally believable as well as showing how Mun adjusts to her new world of sight.. She also expertly pulls off the scenes where Mun goes stark raving mad displaying truly chilling abilities. This actress is worthy of attention. In the supporting role as her boyfriend and psychotherapist Lee Sin Lawrence Chou simply works as more as a sidekick never realizing utilizing his part and coming off fairly bland.
The camera effects and editing are well done but ultimately the story fails to live up to the expectations it builds in the beginning. Borrowing from The Sixth Sense Jacob's Ladder and Final Destination directors Danny Pang and Oxide Pang try to heighten the suspense of whole "dead people" horror scenario by introducing the uneasy awareness of one's inescapable fate but ultimately it falls short. The pace of the story zooms along but the scenes seem to run together and you wade through a murky story line rather than a frightening one. Unfortunately the really scary scenes are few and far between in what is supposedly a psychological thriller. The rest of the film is unable to perpetuate the fear it creates.