BANGKOK DANGEROUS: A Needless Remake
BANGKOK DANGEROUS (crime thriller)
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Shahkrit Yamnarm, Charlie Young and Nirattisai Kaljareuk
Directors: Danny and Oxide Pang
Time: 98 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: In 1999, the Pang Brothers of Hong Kong made their joint directorial debut with a Thai-language movie called 'Bangkok Dangerous', about a conflicted deaf-mute hitman and featuring the low-life atmosphere of Thailand's capital. It was no big deal, but when Danny and Oxide Pang made 'The Eye' in 2002, they started to become famous internationally.
Hollywood bought the rights to 'The Eye' and its sequel, and Nicolas Cage's company, Saturn Films, bought the rights of 'Bangkok Dangerous'. It opened in the US in early September - to a lukewarm reception and critical toasting.
THE PLOT: After completing a job in Prague, hitman Joe (Cage, pictured) goes to Bangkok to complete four assignments which he hopes would be his last. To get around, he hires a local petty thief named Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm) as his sidekick, planning to 'silence' him when the job is over. However, midway through his assignments, Killer Joe not only has a change of heart, he suddenly discovers that he has a 'heart' and a conscience after all - and suddenly Bangkok becomes dangerous to him, instead of the other way around.
HITS & MISSES: In order to make this remake more palatable for American audiences, the Brothers Pang discarded the main essence of their original film - the grimey and grittiness that is Bangkok - for a more touristy cityscape. The result is a run-of-the-mill hitman caper, Cage notwithstanding. Indeed, this is a move Cage can sleepwalk through and it demands nothing of his talents. In the original, the hitman is deaf-mute but here, the disability is transferred to Joe's love interest, the pretty pharmacist played by Charlie Young, another cast member who seems to sleepwalk through the role. Only local star Shahkrit Yamnarm stands out with a humorous performance.
But then again, I may be too harsh. The blame should go to the directors who offer nothing in terms of emotional development to the characters. The Pangs seem to believe that by keeping the scenes dark, they would heighten the audience's imagination and participation. No, it is just infuriating.
THE VERDICT: The Pang Brothers have not done anything to outshine 'The Eye'.This one is as bland as the Pang Brothers' last outing, 'The Messengers', released last year.