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Vol. LXII, No. 37
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

CAN SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME?: Joe (Nicolas Cage) is wounded in a gun battle and fortunately finds a beautiful female pharmacy clerk (Charlie Yeung, not shown), who takes pity on him and bandages his wound, and with whom he subsequently falls in love.

Bangkok Dangerous: Nicolas Cage Stars in Remake of Pang Brothers Shoot ’Em Up

Kam Williams

A pairing of Nicolas Cage with the Pang Brothers, is rather incongruous. The Oscar-winning actor (Leaving Las Vegas) is an A-list star usually associated with high quality Hollywood productions, while the Thai twins are associated with low budget B-movies which usually lack plausibility and coherency. Unfortunately, Bangkok Dangerous is a slapdash remake of the brothers’ first feature-length collaboration (of the same name) that was made in 1999.

The original, a tawdry tale of violence and redemption, revolved around a deaf-mute assassin-for-hire who was inspired to atone for his sins after he fell in love with a compassionate cashier. This new version revises the script by changing the protagonist Joe’s nationality from Thai to American and making his love interest be a deaf-mute woman, thus allowing Joe to be the one that shows empathy. Joe (Nicolas Cage) also narrates the film in an annoying monotone.

As the movie opens we find Joe en-route to Bangkok on a lucrative assignment that is supposed to be his last one before he retires. In the voice-over, the mercenary presents a brief description of his job: “(1) don’t ask questions; (2) there is no right and wrong; (3) don’t take an interest in people outside of work; and (4) know when to get out and walk away rich.”

Upon arriving in Thailand, however, he immediately proceeds to ignore his own advice. For example, even though he’s presumably there to execute four people and make a quick getaway, he somehow finds the time to train a young street urchin (Shahkrit Yamnarm) as a protégé. Also, the focused, cold-blooded murderer has his head turned by a pharmacy clerk (Charlie Yeung) who bandages his arm after he is wounded in a fierce gun battle.

The two start dating, and as their relationship blossoms into love, Joe discovers that he has a sensitive side. Belatedly imbued with a conscience, he is hesitant to return to his grisly line of work, not a good idea in such a nasty kill-or-be-killed business.

Will the kindlier, friendlier Joe be able to finish the job, collect his fee, and disappear into the sunset with the girl? You’ll have to buy a movie ticket to find that out. But be prepared to sit through two hours of one dimensional characters who deliver cliché-ridden lines with fortune cookie logic such as, “When the nightmare becomes real, it becomes pretty simple.” An excessively violent, sloppily edited, unintentionally funny, overly sentimental movie which has little going for it beyond a snazzy score and some special effects.

How do you steal the best features of The Transporter, The Karate Kid, and Mission Impossible and end up with a mess like this?

Fair (1 star). Rated R for violence, profanity, and sexuality. In English and Thai with subtitles.

Running time: 100 minutes. Studio: Lions Gate Films.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

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