Review

Bangkok Dangerous Review

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Sep 07, 2008 | 8:02am EDT

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.

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