According to my calculations, Bangkok Dangerous should have been the good Nicolas Cage movie. He’s been on this wacky path, much like a Star Trek movie where every other film is good.
Cage’s last film was last year’s National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, meaning that Dangerous indeed should have been the entertaining film on the constant yo-yo that is Cage’s acting career.
And in all fairness to directors/screenwriters Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang, they’ve made a film with a solid story and some dynamic action scenes. Bangkok Dangerous is a good film and should be a hit for Nicholas Cage, except for one tiny, teeny problem – Nicholas Cage.
The Pang brothers originally released the film in Thailand in 1999 about a deaf mute assassin completing his latest round of jobs with cold-blooded efficiency before he befriends his errand boy Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm) and finds things to value in life more than money.
Cage is woefully miscast as the hit man Joe. He’s asked to be a cool, calm and collected assassin. And one glimpse of Cage’s ridiculous hairstyle (an earnest attempt to more closely resemble the appearance of Pawalit Mongkolpisit, the star of the original film) automatically prevents him from being anything resembling cool and more of a laughingstock or that delusional would-be father who’s convinced he’s still hip. Not a good trait for your main character. Cage isn’t suave and the film suffers from his lack of credibility as a remorseless killer. It’s almost like you can see him concentrating so hard in being detached, cool, killer — ‘Must…be… cool.’
Screenwriter Jason Richman (Swing Vote) makes some compromises for the American audience with slight changes such as Joe falling for a deaf mute (Charlie Yeung) instead of being the mute himself like the original. Yeung delivers her dialogue better and yes, I realize she’s playing a deaf mute. That’s how bad Cage is with this romantic subplot.
He’s not helped by the cringe-worthy dialogue such as “If you stay invisible too long the human race looks like another species” or “the human face can mislead in a hundred thousand ways but the eyes never change.”
The Pangs get around the Cage problem for the most part during the action/assassination scenes, which are easily the film’s standouts. One really creatively shot scene features an underwater shot of bullets coming through a boat as Joe tries to shoot a target in a racing boat.
Bangkok Dangerous is a promising film about a hit man that ultimately gets wacked because its star isn’t suited for the role at all. If you’re feeling adventurous, the original sounds like a much safer bet.
Rating: 3 out of 10
Photo Credit: Chan Kam Chuen/Lionsgate Publicity