The Pang Brothers’ Bangkok Dangerous (2008)
Firstly let’s get this out of the way, this film is a remake of the Pang Brothers’ co-op directorial debut, which I have not seen, so I am reviewing this work in something of a vacuum. That out of the way, Nicolas Cage stars here as an introverted hitman in the style of Le Samourai named Joe who has traveled to the titular city of Bangkok to do four jobs. As we are introduced to him he sets out his golden rules for being a hitman, no socializing outside of work, no connection, stay in the shadows, never ask questions, leave no trace. When he first gets to Bangkok his work starts perfectly according to plan, he hires a pickpocket who he will kill later (leave no trace) to act as a messenger between him and his employers and finds a very classy cottage out in the boonies to shack up in. But he quickly breaks the no connections rule as his messenger boy, Kong, catches his interest when he asks to be taught how to be a killer. He also starts developing a romance with a deaf-mute pharmacist. With all of this starting to undermine his clockwork precision, things start going wrong, but maybe this is an opportunity for Joe to finally do a good thing and be a hero.
If there is one problem I have with this movie it is the romantic interest, who is pretty much not a character. She just kind of exists as a metaphor for Joe’s isolation since she has so much difficulty communicating, but then she really has nothing to communicate. She came off as rather redundant to me since we already have Joe forming a relationship with Kong, a real, fleshed out character. So the romance for me was just a bore that dragged the film down. On the plus side though, I think Cage delivers an exceptional performance. While he is most notable and at his best when he can really let loose to unleash his boundless energy, his restrained and quiet performance here just goes to show how diverse of a performer he can be.
The delivery of this film borrows heavily from Tony Scott’s book of style which I think pays off greatly. Instead of jumping to the exciting scenes the film takes a more procedural approach and that aforementioned style goes a long way to help build suspense around Joe’s plans of attack. That style and Cage’s performance are what really make this film work for me, it has atmosphere aplenty and Joe is the perfect character to inhabit this grim world. That being said though, the film falters with it’s romance subplot and the face-turn at the end is extremely predictable and over-foreshadowed a little too strongly. So that in mind, I would heartily recommend this film to fans of Cage and fans of hitman movies, if you are one of those people there is a lot for you here. If you are not one of these people I might say skip it. 3/5