Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Yo Nick, what’ up with the hair? And the eye shadow? Seriously, Boy George just called to let know he thought you were wearing too much eye shadow in this movie. That aside what we have here in ‘Bangkok Dangerous’ is yet another in a long line of movies that were popular in Asia, and since apparently no one in the United States of America writes original screenplays, has been reworked and recast and brought to American audiences via Hollywood. Thai filmmakers Danny and Oxide Pang who crafted the original back in 1999 also jump behind the camera to guide this new film, which I must say is inferior to the original in every conceivable way.

Cage is hitman Joe, who narrates this film with all the gusto of man sitting on Death Row. He fills us in on what he does and how he goes about his business and how he’d like to have a girlfriend as he goes from Prague to Bangkok for his next series of pre-paid assassinations. Sounds like a multi-level marketing scheme to me.

In Bangkok Joe quickly makes the association of petty thief Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm) who he uses as a courier to bring him the concealed information on his next series of jobs, and also help him with directions and the language barrier.

Everything is working smooth as silk and the assassinations are going like clock work when Joe meets the pretty, hearing impaired pharmacy assistant Fon (Charlie Yeung) and is instantly smitten, with it looking like Joe finally getting that girlfriend he was whining about earlier.

Eventually our remorseless killer gets a job that forces him to think twice about his chosen vocation, with his emotional troubles compounded by Fon seeing Joe for the killer for he really is. Now the hunter finds himself being the hunted with his life hanging in the balance.

There was a scene in this movie where Cage is running from the popo’s and has to blend into the crowd to escape. You would think that a 6’2" Anglo with long scraggly black hair and Adam Ant eye shadow would stick out pretty good amongst a bunch of five foot dark skinned Thai’s, but you would be WRONG!

By itself, this film is fairly run of the mill, passable, if not completely discardable entertainment, but when compared to the film that spawned it, which admittedly wasn’t worlds best movie, though I liked it a lot, the flaws of this film become more prominent. One of the things that made the original unique was the fact that the protagonist was the deaf mute which gave that movie a completely different vibe and really altered the dynamic of how everybody else in the film had to relate to this character. In this movie by giving our protagonist a voice, since I’m sure no one is interested in paying Nicholas Cage x-millions of dollars not to speak, whatever was special about the original has been removed in this remake and what we are left with is something that we’ve seen so often that its almost mind numbingly pedestrian. The big sense of discovery that our character is suppose to feel after coming to terms with the truth of his life in the original had some power to it, mainly due the Pang Brother’s ability to setup the character and working with that characters built in limitations. In this version it’s simply a plot point that is completely out of step with the character, when taking in considering everything he’s told us to this point, and is merely a plot device to move us along to the inevitable shootout.

As far as Nicholas Cage the Academy Award winning actor goes, I’m not quite sure what he was going for with his presentation of the character of Joe. It is possible that he was attempting to make his character coolly detached from his brutal occupation, but it came off as if the man was incredibly bored and would much rather be anywhere else but in this movie. You would think that killing people for a living while riding souped up motorcycles would be more exciting than being a busboy, but one sure couldn’t tell by looking at Joe in action. Since we’re given no background or history about Joe or why he is what he is or why he does what he does (again unlike the original), we’re stuck at looking at this bored dude mope around and are forced to conclude that being an international assassin is one crap ass gig.

The movie wasn’t all bad though as it had a few slickly realized action sequences, though most of these were carried over from the original, and it was kind of cool watching that guy get blown in half by that grenade. And since the movie didn’t waste anytime with that cumbersome character development, it was mercifully brief. Still a bit slow moving and plodding, but brief nonetheless.

I guess when choosing to remake these Asian movies the filmmakers can go the route of ‘The Departed’ which used ‘Infernal Affairs’ as a virtual storyboard – which must be the route to take since it did snag a best picture Oscar, or go the route of ‘Bangkok Dangerous’ and mix it up completely – which in my opinion is an unmitigated failure of a film. I’d prefer that we U.S. Americans made our own brand new fresh and original movies, but then I also want peace on earth so how silly am I?

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