Bangkok Dangerous

Almost ten years ago, the Pang brothers, Danny and Oxide, directed a “Hitman” movie in their native Thailand, and not a good one. Now comes the American remake which the brothers shot themselves. Is there an improvement from the original material?

There are a few changes, first. In the new version, the hero is a mysterious American hitman, arriving in Bangkok to execute four contracts. His last, before enjoying a golden retirement far from guns and death. Except that the plan goes wrong, and our hitman breaks his own rules, falling for a local girl. Add to that the fact that his own employers are trying to cross him, and then here comes the danger the title warned us about.

For a moment, before seeing the film, I thought it could be good. After all, the first Bangkok Dangerous film was so flashy, so annoying, so bad, that the directors could only do better. And to be honest, they did; they went with a more straightforward “classical” action movie. They ditched a bit of their useless over-stylized direction (far from all of it though), they cut the experimentation that comes with a deaf-mute hitman hero (Cage’s character suffered from neither of those disabilities), and the result is much more watchable.

Now, a good idea would have been to take advantage of remaking the movie to give it a brand new shape…for example, the shape of a cool action film. Which Bangkok Dangerous is not. It is much too predictable, in the action sequences, in the character development, even in the lines.  The quality of the film could have improved, had the Pang brothers decided to cut the ridiculous romantic storyline between the nice hitman and the poor deaf/mute Thai girl (can you see the connection with the original ?). But they did not.

And of course there is Nicolas Cage.  I love Nicolas Cage. Raising Arizona. Leaving Las Vegas. Face/Off. Bringing out the Dead. Lord of War. The Weather Man. The man CAN act, and he can act superbly when directed by a talented filmmaker. That’s not the case here. Here, all that matters is the man’s wig, as attested by the half dozen people credited as “Mr. Cage’s hair stylist”, or some approaching qualification. Of course the film is not unpleasant to watch… but I am afraid true quality is nowhere to be seen.

2 / 5 stars

Read more: Cruel life