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Bangkok Dangerous Is Hazardous to Having Fun

Bangkok Dangerous
Directed by Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang
Written by Jason Richman from the 1999 film of the same name by the Pang Brothers
Lionsgate, 2008

The intensely boring Bangkok Dangerous is one of those movies that is so sleepy, it might as well be used for that very purpose.  Even when a hand gets severed or a body gets cut in half in this flick, all I was really seeing was sheep jumping over a fence while I counted them.  Even Nicolas Cage, who is reliably goofy, seemed too tired to pull off some bizarre line reading in this one.  He’s actually too reserved.  How in the world did that happen?

Cage plays Joe, an assassin who mentions up front that he’s got some rules he lives by, which means he’s going to break them in this movie.  The only question I had was, “Why now?”  Most assassin movies, like Grosse Point Blank or The Matador, have some sort of crisis that leads to the professional becoming unprofessional, but here there isn’t any.  One of the rules he has is to not take interest in people outside of work, and he breaks this pretty quickly.

When he hires a young guy named Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm) to be his middle man for deliveries, he treats him like total crap for awhile before all the sudden feeling sorry for him after he gets beat up.  And when Kong, shortly after that, asks like a would-be Jedi for Joe to teach him everything he knows, Joe does because, “When I looked at him…I saw myself.”  And when Joe goes to a pharmacy he falls in love with a smiley deaf girl who helps him out.  Anyone who has ever been an assassin knows that your work and girlfriends don’t mix.

Anyway, Joe is knocking off a whole bunch of gangster guys, so his work has the tinge of being righteous.  But he’s killing these gangsters for another gangster guy, a total of four jobs in all.  In a laughable scene, Kong sees a popular politician on TV and mentions to Joe, “He’s like you.  He tries to clean up all the bad guys.  Everyone loves him.”  And so the movie telegraphs a softball to our heads that there’s no doubt one of Joe’s jobs is going to eventually be this politician.  And thus another one of Joe’s rules will be broken here, and that is to not ask questions.

So, four jobs, meaning four potential action scenes in which to look forward, and all of them are slow and not very creative.  I like scenes where the assassin is doing his job, making calculations, and finds ways to offset a great many challenges.  Here, Joe makes a couple of calculations and then he’s blowing guys away.  The movie tries hard to make it seem like it’s more than that, but it really isn’t.  Joe doesn’t really need to be perfect in his execution for any reason.  And I hate it when an assassin can succeed without being meticulous.

Beyond that, just know that this movie, with it’s slow pace and lack of sustained action, is just not exciting and probably not even worth a rental unless you want to find a cheap alternative to Unisom.

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