It’s no secret that I love Nicolas Cage. I always have, and I always will – his unique acting talents never cease to entertain, amaze, and baffle me by turns. However, Bangkok Dangerous is one of the actor’s many titles that was… less appreciated.
A remake of the 1999 film of the same name, this version of Bangkok Dangerous changes the original’s deaf-mute Thai assassin to, well, Nicolas Cage. Cage is Joe, an international assassin who lives by four golden rules, but in his final job in Bangkok, Joe breaks each and every one as he befriends a local, falls in love, and, worst of all, grows a conscience.
As premises go, it’s not too bad. However, from the opening scene, the film is mired by an abysmal script – with Joe’s voice-over delivering classic lines like “I return to my invisible world… like a ghost” and “Why didn’t I kill him? When I looked into his eyes, I saw… myself.”
Hammy dialogue aside, Bangkok Dangerous does have some good action scenes, and both Cage and his co-star Shahkrit Yamnarm (who plays sidekick/protégé Kong) actually give fairly solid performances.
One of the film’s stranger choices (and there are many) was the shoehorning of a romance subplot between Joe – the international criminal with the blood of countless victims on his hands – and Fon, a deaf-mute pharmacist who just happened to smile at him while, y’know, trying to do her job. It’s a somewhat unnecessary and unsatisfying addition to the story, as not only does the thread go nowhere, but it derails the film’s pace entirely.
All of that considered, Bangkok Dangerous was still a pretty enjoyable experience – that is, until the last two scenes. After blowing up his own house and surviving by hiding in the bathtub, Joe sets off to take out his employer after breaking every single one of the rules that have governed his professional life. **[SPOILER ALERT for a film well over a decade old]** The film comes to a jarring conclusion when Joe decides to use his last bullet to not just take out Surat, the criminal kingpin that employed him at the start of the film, but also himself. He hugs Surat close (aww), and then puts the bullet through both of their heads as Kong (and several amassed police officers) watch on in shock. No real context is offered, other than perhaps Joe seeing no other way out, but it’s not an ending that made an awful lot of sense.
Never fear, though, because there’s an alternate ending! This other conclusion sees Kong rescue Joe in a stolen police car at the last minute, and the pair hide in the slums, where the locals save Joe, explaining that “Surat was a bad man. It’s good that you killed him,” which is possibly the worst dialogue and delivery in the whole film. The alternate ending makes a little more sense in some ways, but it’s hardly the logical conclusion – the mass murderer really should pay the price in some way, not get rewarded with a new life because he grew a conscience after YEARS of murder.
I digress. Put simply, Bangkok Dangerous is one of the most bizarre – yet still mundane – films I’ve ever seen. It’s not a bad watch for fans of action, but the poor dialogue and bungled ending(s) only serve to sour the whole experience.
Summary: Decent action, weird and uninteresting romance, and a laughable script all make for a pretty strange experience.
Highlight: The final action scene in Surat’s warehouse/compound is pretty impressive.