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Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang
Nicolas Cage, Shahkrit Yamnarm, Charlie Yeung, Panward Hemmanee, Nirattisai Kaljaruek, Dom Hetrakul, Tuck Napaskorn, Steve Baldocchi, Chris Heebink
Writing Credits:
Jason Richman, Oxide Pang Chun (1999 film), Danny Pang (1999 film)

There's only one way out.

As a hired assassin, Joe (Nicolas Cage) is the best in the business, but the years of stone-cold murder have taken their toll. Joe's plan to make this current assignment in Bangkok his last takes a wild turn when he violates one of the most important rules of the game. Now the hunter is the hunted in this hard-driving, action-packed thriller.

Box Office:
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$7.783 million on 2650 screens.
Domestic Gross
$15.232 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.78:1/16X9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $29.95
Release Date: 1/6/2009

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Bangkok Dangerous (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 23, 2009)

Back when Nicolas Cage made The Rock in 1996, he seemed like an unlikely actor to appear in a mindless action flick. Fast-forward more than a decade, and now Cage appears to make nothing but mindless action flicks. His newest effort: 2008’s Bangkok Dangerous.

A remake of flick, Dangerous casts Cage as an assassin for hire named Joe. While excellent at his job, the years of killing and loneliness have taken their toll on Joe, and he decides to retire – after one last job.

This alleged final assignment takes him to Bangkok. There he hires a local street criminal named Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm) as his go-between. Though Joe always kills his temporary assistants when the job ends, he takes a liking to Kong and decides to train him as his disciple.

In addition, both Joe and Kong develop romantic relationships. Joe violates his cardinal rule to stay anonymous when he meets a cute, deaf pharmacist (Charlie Young) and woos her. Kong also runs into entanglements when he falls for Aom (Panward Hemmanee), a go-go dancer who functions as part of Joe’s assignment. These complications alter Joe’s normal business path.

Back in the day, I really admired Cage as an actor. Yes, I could understand how his quirky style irritated some viewers, but I thought he brought a certain energy to his parts. He took ordinary roles and made them unique; for that, I enjoyed his work.

We can still see some of that in Cage, as he’ll never fully turn into an anonymous actor. However, he’s come much closer than I’d like, and Dangerous reinforces my view of Cage’s downward spiral.

I suppose it passes for irony that he plays a jaded hired gun in Dangerous, as it appears that’s what Cage has become as an actor. It’s unclear how he picks his roles; he works in so many crummy, generic action flicks that I get the feeling he takes any job that passes his way. While I don’t begrudge an actor his desire to make a buck, it’d be nice to see Cage better balance commerce with art. Others maintain a “one for the bank account, one for me” policy, but Cage appears to have decided that he just wants the money; I can’t recall the last “serious” movie he made.

If Cage made good action flicks, I wouldn’t complain. After all, I love the genre, and I appreciate actors who thrive in that kind of movie. Unfortunately, even his best efforts – like the National Treasure films – are just “pretty good”, so he loses more steam with each new mediocrity.

Add Dangerous to that list. As a remake, it seems intriguing since the original film’s directors also made the reworking. However, this doesn’t mean that the remake will be good. I have no idea how the two compare, but the 2008 Dangerous lacks much energy or life.

Indeed, it often comes across more as a character study than as an action flick. I don’t mind that choice, and it could’ve become interesting. As depicted here, however, the story never really goes anywhere. The characters feel tired, as we’ve seen these archetypes before and can pretty much figure out where they’ll go.

The film doesn’t tell its tale very well, either. Many of the supporting characters remain vague, and it takes a while before Joe’s assignment even manages to make sense. A lot of the elements come across as random and tedious. The movie tries to stake out a path, but it never seems sure what it wants to go.

This leaves the viewer in the lurch without much reason to remain interested in the film. Oh, Dangerous manages an occasional memorable moment; Joe’s pursuit of a target via boat actually becomes stimulating. Unfortunately, scenes like that are few and far between, as the movie usually just muddles along without much apparent purpose.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B+/ Bonus D-

Bangkok Dangerous appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. An often messy presentation, it became tough to tell how many of the image’s problems resulted from the filmmakers’ choices and how many came from the transfer.

Grain and artifacts created the majority of the distractions. I thought the movie often looked quite grainy, and that affected the accuracy of the other elements. Overall sharpness was generally fine, though the artifacts made things chunkier than I’d like. Some wide shots were a bit soft, but these didn’t create immense concerns. Other than the grain, few source flaws appeared; I witnessed a speck or two but nothing else.

In terms of colors, Dangerous went for very stylized tones. They varied between a cold blue tint and a flat, tan appearance. The cityscape of Bangkok occasionally allowed for brighter colors, but don’t expect much from it. Within the film’s stylistic parameters, these looked fine; they never excelled, but they were acceptable for what the film attempted.

Blacks were a bit inky, while shadows tended to seem moderately thick. A lot of that stemmed from the grain; low-light shots were generally murky. As I stated earlier, I found it difficult to differentiate between stylistic choices and transfer problems. Whatever the case may’ve been, I thought the image remained too erratic for a grade above a “C+”.

Dangerous went with an active Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack – and a loud one, too. Adjust your volume knob when you play this flick; I lowered mine about 5db to compensate for the hot mastering.

Overall, the soundfield provided an involving environment. Action sequences were the most active, as they featured good use of various vehicles and ambience all around the spectrum. Music demonstrated nice stereo imaging as well, and the mix meshed all five speakers in a satisfying, believable way.

In addition, the track boasted positive audio quality. Speech remained natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music demonstrated solid dimensionality, while effects were clean and bold. Bass response showed nice depth and power. Overall, this soundtrack served the film well.

A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for My Bloody Valentine 3D, The Spirit, My Best Friend’s Girl, Disaster Movie, Crank, Lord of War and Saw V. You can find these in the Also From Lions Gate area as well, and the disc throws in the trailer for Dangerous too.

Perhaps someday Nicolas Cage will remind his fans why we liked him in the first place, but that day doesn’t come with Bangkok Dangerous. An eminently forgettable action flick, the movie lacks much of a story and fails to compensate with involving characters or exciting set pieces. The DVD presents very good audio but picture quality seems lackluster at best, and the disc includes no substantial supplements. We find a bland release for a mediocre movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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