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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.25%
Worth A Look: 37.5%
Just Average: 6.25%
Pretty Crappy: 6.25%

2 reviews, 4 user ratings

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Bangkok Dangerous (2008)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Cage is still worth watching."
4 stars

"Bangkok Dangerous" is as dark and blue as the inside of a gun. Itís a hit-man thriller of the Existential Crisis variety, in which an assassin (Nicolas Cage) is starting to feel sick of what he does so well.

Complicating things are a venal but essentially loyal sidekick (Shahkrit Yamnarm), whom the assassin takes under his wing for training, and a sweet young deaf-mute pharmacist (Charlie Yeung) who makes the assassin ó who calls himself Joe ó weak in the knees. Also, Joe is finding it increasingly difficult to pull the plug on his emotions and his victims. To paraphrase a line from Grosse Pointe Blank, either heís fallen in love or heís developed a newfound respect for life.

The movie, remade by the Hong Kong twin brothers Danny and Oxide Pang from their own 1999 thriller, is on some level banal and plotless. But the Pangs, along with cinematographer Decha Srimantra, give us a gloomy mood piece about being utterly alone in a city of nine million. The Bangkok of this movie, as filtered through Joeís eyes, is full of crime and people on the make, a densely packed steampot of sin. The only oasis is a glowing white pharmacy and the conveniently nonverbal angel within. (In the original film, it was the assassin who was deaf-mute.) Why Nicolas Cage doesnít do more romantic movies is a puzzlement; heís got the soul for it. Joe is a beast until he meets the beauty, whereupon he opens up.

I wonít soon forget Cageís delicate work in the scene wherein Joe the amoral monster takes his sweetie out to dinner, attempting to grab a semblance of normality while it lasts. The conversation is limited to how hot the food is, countered by the pharmacistís offer of leaves to balm Joeís tongue, but Cageís yearning eyes do the talking for both of them. Later in the date, Joe gets to feed a banana to a baby elephant, and rather than giving us an insert of the cute animal, the Pangs keep their camera on Joe, who seems to become five years old for a few seconds. The plot device is all too threadbare ó this innocent young woman is supposed to re-introduce Joe to his humanity. Been there, seen that. But itís not the notes, itís how Cage plays them.

Other than a gory moment involving a boat propeller, the violence is subdued, even classy. Itís not meant to look cool, though ó people wonít be watching the intricate stunts and gun-fu over and over on the DVD, since there arenít any. Joe kills for a living; it is what it is. ďBad man?Ē asks Joeís sidekick about the latest target. ďBad for someone,Ē Joe shrugs. As in Grosse Pointe Blank, we mostly donít know what the doomed men have done to earn a price on their heads, at least not until the last job, the one that gives the assassin pause. Bangkok Dangerous isnít anything great or original; itís a riff, and itís dependent almost entirely on Nicolas Cage and the way he has of making Joe look pained even when heís smiling (in a few shots he looks eerily like Andy Kaufman). Cage has been making choices in recent years (hello, The Wicker Man) that donít always make sense to the rest of us. I always get the feeling, though, that whatever film he does satisfies some need or curiosity he has at the time; itís not just for the paycheck. And this one finishes on a surprisingly downbeat, non-Hollywood note.

Iím a Cage fan: your mileage may vary. But whatever its narrative predictability, "Bangkok Dangerous" proves thereís still reason to stay interested in Cage, and in whatever he gets interested in next.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17274&reviewer=416
originally posted: 09/07/08 18:50:58
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User Comments

1/12/10 mr.mike I found it....awesome. 5 stars
5/28/09 kitfo Cage is hilarious. "I will be your teacher" Wait this isnt a comedy? 2 stars
1/10/09 action movie fan good hitman story with good action except wooden video gamish warehouse climax 3 stars
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  05-Sep-2008 (R)
  DVD: 06-Jan-2009


  DVD: 06-Jan-2009

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