‘Bangkok’ Is Not Dangerous, Just Badly Acted

Ani Khashadoorian

One does not want to experience the pain that comes from being shot in the head, but “Bangkok Dangerous,” an action flick dealing with an assassin’s journey through the Thai city, manages to give the viewer the throbbing ache that being shot in the head must feel like.

This past year has been full of theatrical movie releases dealing with assassination plots. From the summer box office smash “Wanted” to last week’s “Bangkok Dangerous,” it appears that Hollywood has found a niche market for action movie aficionados. Whether such movies can always successfully execute a hit in moviegoers’ pockets however, remains another story (“Waterworld,” anyone?)

“Bangkok Dangerous” is a remake of the 1999 Thai movie of the same title also directed by brothers Oxide and Danny Pang. Best known for directing the cult horror flick “Gin Gwai” (The Eye, 2002, remade earlier this year starring Jessica Alba), the Pang duo have cast Nicolas Cage as the paid assassin simply known as Joe.

The monotone voiceover by Joe in the beginning of the movie lets us know that he leads a life with few basic rules. The ends justify the means for this killer, who does his work well enough to evade his employers (what sets Joe apart from other assassins is how he maintains his anonymity from his employers, never meeting face to face with them) while still cashing large checks. A clichéd headshot opens the first minutes of this movie, allowing Joe to showcase his skills as a hired gun.

Joe is sent to Thailand on an assignment by a gang leader to carry out four hits ranging from other gang honchos to a well-loved politician who has been cracking down on gangs in the city.

Along the streets of Bangkok, Joe finds an assistant by the name of Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm) to deliver packages and assist him around the city. As the movie progresses, Joe manages to fall in love with a deaf pharmacist while having begun training Kong as his student.

Although the movie tries to be engaging, it just flops around due to a combination of poor direction and atrocious acting on Cage’s part.

Cage’s lines are forced and awkward; once an Oscar winning actor, he has lost his touch. Instead of coming off as a antihero, his performance seems unnatural and bored, and the action sequences try to redeem the movie but end up looking like a toddler’s reenactment of a train wreck using toy trucks and guns.

The sound track is a joke, with the same piano score is used every 15 minutes, and a bizarre elephant allegory runs throughout the entire movie.

The only positive aspect of the entire movie is the gritty camera work. Dark hues dominate the screen while lighting is constantly either flaring up or flaring down. You really feel as if you were in the slums of the city, nestled between the stereotypical overzealous tourists and the scheming pick-pocketing thieves.

Perhaps the best aspect of the entire movie is Cage’s hair – whether it’s real has yet to be confirmed. It is greasy, sharp, and droops around aimlessly while Joe is trying to do his job. One couldn’t help but be entranced by the hair on the big screen – what kind of things could be hidden in there? Why does it appear so dirty all the time? Is the hair full of secrets from Joe’s past? When the only high point of the movie is the bad hairpiece of a deadly assassin, you know your movie has failed.

It seems like the Pang brothers had a good movie idea in theory, but the style in which they pulled it off unfortunately didn’t sync with what they had imagined.

Instead of coming off as a stylish and determined action movie, it becomes a garbled mess on nearly every cinematic and artistic level. The original “Bangkok Dangerous” received slightly better reviews among critics, but the general consensus about the movie is negative.

“Bangkok Dangerous” has a runtime of 99 minutes and is rated R for violence, language and some sexuality. Blue Star Pictures produced the movie, and Lionsgate was the distributor.

My overall rating is a one out of five stars. Better luck next time.