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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Bangkok Dangerous

**** Bangkok Dangerous. Drama.

Directed by: Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Shahkrit Yamnarm, Charlie Yeung, Panward Hemmanee

We saw this last night at the theater on post.

Hitman Joe (Nicolas Cage) has four rules--get out before you lose your edge, never leave any loose ends, never get close to anyone, and never ask any questions. He realizes it's time to get out, so he's taking one last big job to set himself up for the rest of his life: a mobster has hired to do four hits in Thailand.

Unfortunately, it's already too late, because he starts breaking his rules. He hires Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm), a young pickpocket, to be his errand-boy; and when Kong figures out what Joe is doing and asks Joe to teach him, Joe agrees instead of killing him. Worse yet, he starts to fall in love with deaf-mute Fon (Charlie Yeung), taking her on dates and leading a double life instead of his usual lonely, isolated one.

Paralleling Joe's romance, Kong begins pursuing the dancer Aom (Panward Hemmanee) who's the errand-girl for the mobster who hired Joe.

The first hits are ones you'd applaud, making Kong idolize Joe, but they become increasingly more dubious until Joe has serious second thoughts about the last one.

Bangkok Dangerous is more of a drama than an action/adventure movie, and I think it succeeds admirably. Joe is a realistic-feeling assassin. He starts out as the exciting, heroic but isolated assassin I'm used to seeing in films, then as the film progresses, the darker side of his life becomes ever more visible. The contrast between the dark Joe and the brilliantly light Fon is dramatic and poignant, and made even clearer by the fact that she always wears white. His attempts to fit into her world are hopeful, but doomed.

Kong and Aom are a good contrast to Joe and Fon. Kong and Aom are more alike--they're both just on the fringes of the dark side, and there's hope that they'll have a future together.

Nicolas Cage is the only big Hollywood name in this film, but big Hollywood names don't have a monopoly on acting talent. Shahkrit Yamnarm and Charlie Yeung in particular deliver stellar performances, and I'll be looking forward to seeing them in future films. I know quite a few people dislike Nicolas Cage in general--I'm a fan, but even if I weren't, I think his style worked well for the character. The introspection and the unease with interpersonal interactions of the assassin, as well as the ruthlessness, were convincingly portrayed. I do wish he'd stop with the horrible hair, though. Seems like every movie I've seen him in in the past few years, his hair has been frightening.

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