One would think any movie with an assassin should have a basic level of tension and drama. However, it’s movies like Bangkok Dangerous that destroy that theory. Nicholas Cage walks through his role as an assassin known only as Joe, failing to carry this dull, non-eventful story to the end.
A remake of a 1999 film which was also directed by the Pang Brothers, Bangkok Dangerous has almost nothing to recommend. Joe is that typical movie assassin who is finishing his last job that happens to be in Bangkok. While the setting is fresh for an American film, the visual beauty is hardly enough to make up for everything else.
Joe takes on an apprentice of sorts, though it’s random chance that they meet. Their relationship is meager, and never feels fleshed out enough to be interesting on screen. Still, that’s nothing compared to Joe’s relationship with a deaf mute which goes absolutely nowhere. It’s used for nothing more than character building, but comes off unconvincing while adding little to the narrative compared to how much time is takes to build.
Sporadic action generates some excitement, and the Pang Brothers do have a sense of style. Action fans will probably have a smile on their face a few times, though it will be few and far between. Much of the intensity is held for the final act.
Credit is due for taking an unexpected route for the ending, as it’s both gutsy and against the norm. However, the foreshadowing the film uses is obvious, and there’s no twist or unexpected event along the way. The movie plods along and truly becomes a film where nothing happens for almost 90 minutes.
Bangkok Dangerous has two things going for it: the location and an ending you don’t expect. Aside from that, it’s an incredibly dull, bland story that seems to have little reason to actually exist, let alone star Nicholas Cage. This is an easy pass.
The video transfer here warrants a lot of discussion. A nice, heavy grain filter helps the film maintain a gritty feel, and at other times it’s turned off completely (and thankfully without any ill-effects). Black levels are excellent including shadow detail, with an occasional instance of black crush. Much of the movie carries a muted, bleak look, loaded with blue hues. Flesh tones are mostly white, a style choice. Artifacting with this AVC encode is not a problem.
When the movie does bring out color, the disc performs admirably. It’s bold, rich, and all around stunning to look at. Contrast is exceedingly hot at times, and it’s an effect that comes off as overdone. Sharpness is maintained to a high degree, faltering only in a few spots (the pharmacy date for example). Detail is constantly noticeable, down to individual pores on faces and stitching on clothing.
As always, Lionsgate brings out the best in Blu-ray with a wonderful DTS-HD 7.1 mix. The track does everything right. The soundtrack is superb in terms of how well it bleeds into the rears. Gunfire is crisp in all channels. Vehicles track wonderfully from front to back (or the other way around). Dialogue remains audible, even inside loud clubs full of ambiance. The LFE channel receives plenty to work with, both from a musical and explosion stand point. It’s a robust, well-rounded effort.
Given the rather dismal box office, there’s not much here in terms of extras. The best of the lot is From Hong Kong to Bangkok, a history of the Pang Brothers and the Hong Kong film industry. While too brief at slightly over 15 minutes, it contains footage from many obscure films and excellent discussion. Execution of the Film is your usual making-of featurette, and an alternate ending is included that was wisely deleted.
Lionsgate also includes BD-Live support in the form of MoLog, another waste of time for online features. The registration process is a true form of idiocy thanks to the keyboard app, and once inside you can download various subtitles tracks and blogs. It’s not worth the effort.