BANGKOK DANGEROUS, written & directed by the Pang Brothers, twins Danny Pang Phat and Oxide Pang Chung, of Thailand, was remade by them as a Nicholas Cage vehicle in 2008. That page of the curious Cage decline scored a dangerous 9% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with 94 critics laying waste to what was also a boxoffice flop. We’re not concerned with the remake here (and at 9%, won’t be), but with the Pang Bros 1999 Thai original. It garnered a good deal of attention for being a “stylish” action film (consider yourself warned) in the hyper-kinetic, eye-straining, plasma-draining veins of John Woo and Quentin Tarantino. How many blood-red flags do you need?
‘Kong’ (Palawit Mongkolpisit) is a deaf-mute hitman using his skills to reduce the excess population in the Thai supercity. He has but two friends in his shadow world (silent but deadly, as it were), mentor and fellow killer ‘Joe’ (Pisek Intrakanchit), and Joe’s cynical go-go-girl girlfriend ‘Aom’ (Pantharawarin Timkul). So we have an ace hitman (cool, what a job!) in a sexy city (been there, and yes, it is) and he’s handicapped (so now we are sympathetic: awesome!) Plus there’s a Cynical Go-Go-Girl, which is certainly groudbreaking. Then Kong finds he has ‘feelings’ (Curse of the Hit Man profession) for ‘Fon’ (Premsinee Ratanasopha), a nice girl who works at a pharmacy. Bad(er) guys rape and beat up Aom and chop assorted things from Joe, so Kong must exert REVENGE, even if it costs him Fon, who’s already lost a certain amount of respect for the cute & quiet Kong when he blows away two guys in park while they’re on a date. On a date, walking through a park, at night, attacked by muggers and she has a problem with him saving her life? Nice girls vs. strippers = basic common sense dilemma 101.
Yes, the Pang brothers deliver the frenetic package with some flourish and the debut performance from Panthawarin Timkul as Aom shows some power. The pulsating music score (by Orange Music) is a plus. But, aside from the handicap hook, we’ve seen this death-wishing before there even was a before. Over the 105 minutes it takes to shoot its way through a fair percentage of the city’s gangsters, the patience it exacts to deal with the editing and camera mania ensures that the crucial care-a-cashew-about-it & them quotient never gets past Level Yawn. The final chase and shootout is just foolish. The film does boast, at the beginning, what may be the most unreadable credits sequence ever designed, with a pool of dark blood running over dark red lettering that’s tilted on a slant. Stylish!
It was also remade in 2006, in India, as Pattiyai, and apparently was a success over there. Instead of sampling that version, too, I think a scrumptious order of Pad Thai and a few cold Singha‘s will suffice to tide me over.