ENTERTAINMENT/FILM/REVIEWS

A BLACK MAN’S REVIEW OF… “BANGKOK DANGEROUS”

BANGKOK DANGEROUS (R)

Biases: Smells fishy, but I’m still curious.

Players: Nicolas Cage, The Pang Brothers

Logline: Contract killer Joe (Cage) lives a solitary existence until he decides to take on one last job in Thailand, one that exposes him to acquiring a protege (Shahkrit Yamnarm) and a love interest (Charlie Yeung), thereby endangering his work.

“Bangkok: it’s corrupt, dirty, and dense.” It’s also the secondary lead in The Pang Brothers remake of their 1999 film of the same title. A dour, darkly lensed assassin’s how-to on the solitary lifestyle of contract killing, “Dangerous” offers no real moral message - just a fascinating faux-spose’ of a world we know little about. Without a single glimpse of blue sky - mirroring the blackened, morally compromised hearts of just about everyone involved - The Pang Brothers’ rare foray into English language cinema command this well done, sometimes thoughtful thriller with stylish brooding, like “Dark City” crossed with a “Bourne”-lite. It’s amazing that the Jason Richman (Swing Vote) script and the Pangs’ manipulative use of score (aren’t they all?) make you root for a hitman, amid action set pieces like a Floating Market motorcycle/speedboat chase. For a genre (action) that has seen it all, the Pang Brothers’ show an ingenuity that inspires this film beyond its late summer burn-off marketing, such as a creative use for a grenade that may surprise you.

Ah, and there’s Nic Cage. Here we have him at his most comically stoic, yet still with a glint of intrigue behind his eye. One moment you’re about to laugh him off the screen in his tight, black motorcycle pants, the next you’re drawn into his surprisingly chaste relationship with Yeung’s deaf-mute pharmacist. Their relationship - albeit a wordless one (a romance without words? Sounds like heaven!) - is so lightly done, you genuinely invest in its direction. Yeung’s almost REEL DEAL Crushable, with the brightest, most genuine smile I’ve seen all year; no wonder Joe falls for her. Whereas an obligatory romance is used to humanize a character, this one shows just how alienated from normal life/society Joe truly is. Same could be said of his uneasy mentorship with local pickpocket/do-boy Kong, charismatically played by Yamnarm, a fairly well-earned alliance for a savvy killing machine who trusts no one.

I will say this about “Bangkok Dangerous”: I was never bored. That’s saying a lot when you see about 300 movies a year. With its monochrome look, lack of Western-recognizable co-stars, and an anti-Hollywood ending, it’s no wonder this movie was dumped in the cinematic wasteland that is September. Once you get past another curious (re: disgusting), greasy Nicolas Cage hair choice, “Bangkok” is fun - if you like this sorta thing. Kind of like hummus - if you like Whole Foods.

@@@ REELS

(THREE REELS)

It’s pretty hot - go give it a shot.

UTC’s resident film critic Edwardo Jackson is the author of the novels EVER AFTER and NEVA HAFTA, (Villard/Random House), a writer for The 213 Magazine, and an Atlanta-based screenwriter. Visit his website at www.edwardojackson.com where his new novel I DO? is available now.


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