At the beginning of Bangkok Dangerous, which represents Nicolas Cage's protracted slide into mediocrity, a voiceover by the main character, Joe (Cage), lays down the four rules required of a hitman. But rather than delivering some "knock your socks off" hitman proclamations, we get the following clichéd movie adages that are reflective of the lazy storytelling that plagues the entire film: don't ask questions; don't take an interest in anyone outside of work; erase every trace; and know when to get out. As opening edicts meant to foreshadow the danger of the forthcoming tale, these are way too anemic and do nothing to inspire our confidence in what we're about to see. As a result, the film opens with a whimper and unfortunately never gets any better.

Identical twin directors Oxide and Danny Pang direct this remake of their 1999 Thai language film of the same name at the behest of producers William Sherak and Jason Shuman who discovered the filmmakers while making their first English language film, The Messengers. While it's clear what the producers saw in the Pang Brothers' flashy filmmaking skills, what isn't so readily evident is why they chose to remake a film that, despite its tepid international acclaim, is really just OK to begin with. Why not save the money for travel expenses, shoot it in downtown Los Angeles and call it L.A. Dangerous? Then again, they'd lose the one aspect of the film that did work, that being the inherently gritty neon-lit beauty of Bangkok, the film's most memorable character.

Bangkok DangerousThe only remnants from the original - besides a confusing title that lost an article or a verb somewhere in the translation - are the foreign setting and the occupation of the lead character. In this version, Joe is ready to get out of the business, but not before pulling off one last job, which takes him to Bangkok where he's hired to kill four people. To isolate himself from his clients, he always employs an errand boy... enter the petty pickpocket, Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm) who predictably becomes more than just a gopher. Seeing a bit of himself in the young Kong, Joe eventually takes him under his wing and mentors him in the techniques and practices of a hitman. It's not difficult to sense the forthcoming danger brought about by Joe having broken one of his own rules. It's this simpleton brand of storytelling that keeps the proceedings from becoming anything other than typical. It's predictable, uninspiring and sometimes downright boring.

Cage's acting is as expected here... just the same cardboard character that slid through The Wicker Man and Ghost Rider without even the slightest emotional heft. He's an action star - but not really even a good one at that. His Joe is either slinking speechless through the crowded Bangkok darkness in the worst hairdo this side of Bardem's Anton Chigur, or riding a street bike in black leathers that better suited a young James Dean back in the day. He does nothing to make us care for his character and as a result, we remain distant to the proceedings. In fact, we sometimes wish he'd get caught just to liven things up a bit. Joe's aloofness actually makes sense though as the character in the original Dangerous was a deaf mute and here he's an English speaker in a sea of Thais. His girlfriend, a beautiful pharmacist played by Charlie Yeung, is the film's only interesting character, and Yeung acts circles around everyone else despite the fact that her Fon is a deaf mute.

As we've seen in most of their films, the Pangs definitely know where to put the camera for the best shot and their shooting style is actually quite entertaining. In Bangkok Dangerous, the titular city is depicted with a rich, gooey presence that allows it to become a main character in the film much in the same way L.A did in 2004's Collateral. They often employ Fincher'esque' type camera tricks, but need to learn how to better incorporate them into the flow of the film. For instance, one particular camera shot tracks our assassin's bullet from gun barrel to victim but seems out of place as the technique isn't used anywhere else in the movie. This is actually quite reflective of the entire movie as it displays flashes of brilliance, but always manages to settle back into its womb of monotony. Bangkok Dangerous is an action movie with very little action and its one climactic sequence remarkably loses all luster when we recognize its similarity to the boat canal scene from MI:3.

Component Grades
1 Star
2 stars
DVD Experience
1.5 stars


DVD Details:

2-Disc Special Edition - although this title is listed as a two-discer, the reality is that the second disc of this DVD set is only the film's Digital Copy. A disturbing marketing trend for sure.

Screen Formats: 1.78:1

Subtitles: English; Spanish; Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: DTS 7.1 HD; French: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; alternate ending; trailer; bonus featurettes.

* Featurettes
o Alternate Ending (8:38)
o From Hong Kong to Bangkok (15:21)
o Bangkok Dangerous:' Execution of the Film" (13:31)
* Previews - Original theatrical trailers for Bangkok Dangerous

Number of Discs: 2 with Keepcase Packaging