Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas
Did you ever notice when a movie studio has a film that’s so bad, so inept, and just plain awful, they either (a) release it the weekend after a major holiday, while everyone is back pursuing their normal activities, or (b) they don’t pre-screen it for the critics, in hopes you, the audience, won’t find out how stinko the film is until after you’ve plunked down your cash for a ticket.
In the case of Bangkok Dangerous, Lions Gate Films did both, which gives you some idea of how truly awful this film is. First, it’s a remake…of Bangkok Dangerous; a fairly well received Thai film directed by The Pang Brothers. Asian gangster films have always been popular, especially beginning in the 1990’s with Hong Kong’s John Woo bringing the genre to worldwide fame. While The Pang Brothers are not exactly The Coen Brothers, they can handle action shots and some really interesting camera setups. Why anyone thought having them remake their own film in, mainly, English with an American star might be a good idea has yet to be explained.
Secondly, despite being a remake of their own film, Bangkok Dangerous is yet another retread of John Woo’s far superior The Killer, and manages to throw in all the hit man and action movie clichés that are by now almost self-parody. Once you hear the main character doing first person voice over narration, you know as soon as he starts reciting the four rules of how a hit man should conduct business that he will violate every single one of them, thus leading to his inevitable doom.
Third, Nicolas Cage needs a vacation. This is yet another laconic, hangdog performance of an uninteresting character, which seems to be all he can do lately. In researching his resume, it appears Cage hasn’t made an exceptional film since 1996’s Face-Off, which, not coincidentally, was directed by the aforementioned John Woo. He mumbles. He scowls. And he looks as tired of the films he’s making as we are of watching them. Maybe he needs an 1984 Moonstruck moment when Cher smacks him in the face and screams “SNAP OUT OF IT!”. Moonstruck, Face-Off, and especially his Oscar-winning Leaving Las Vegas have proven that Cage has talent. Perhaps he needs someone else to assist in choosing his projects.
Fourth…The Pang Brothers seem to be enamored of the current trend of shooting in dark hues of faded blues and grays, instead of using real color. We know Bangkok is dirty, dangerous and corrupt, but it would help if we could actually see it.
If you want to enjoy a really good Asian-set action film, then rent John Woo’s The Killer or Ringo Lam’s Full Contact, both starring the charismatic Chow Yun-Fat, as well as Sydney Pollack’s woefully underappreciated The Yakuza starring Robert Mitchum and Brian Keith. With films like these available, there’s absolutely no need to see Bangkok Dangerous.