Year: Movie: 2008
Film Length: 100 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.78:1),
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital EX, English 2.0 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, Spanish
The Movie – 3 out of 5
“Don't ask questions. Don't take an interest in people outside of work. Erase every trace. Know when it's time to get out.”
In the effort of full disclosure, I’ll begin this review by letting you know that I have never seen the 1999 original version of Bangkok Dangerous, so this review just focuses on the new version. I welcome any posts from any of our readers who have seen the original and care to give us your two cents.
Let me start by saying this. I’m just a regular guy who likes watching movies. I’m not some sort of cinematic elitist who thinks great movies begin and ends with Truffaut (look it up). Give me a little character development, a little action, a little sex and a three act structure and I’m usually a pretty happy guy. The critics pretty much ravaged Bangkok Dangerous, so maybe it was the low expectations I had going in, however, I have to say, despite the unanimous drudging this movie had received from critics and moviegoers alike, I found it to be an entertaining movie. Did I love it… no. But compared to the last Nicolas Cage movie I watched called Next (appropriately titled might I add… now THAT was horrible), I thought Bangkok Dangerous was a pretty good movie.
Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage (Adaptation) stars as Joe, the lonely hitman, who after years of being one of the best contract killers in the business (the Russians swear by him), is heading over to Bangkok, Thailand for “one last job”. It’s his big payday (four hits and he’s done) and he’s decided he’s hanging up his gun/s. Now usually when Joe is out on a job, he hires an assistant to act as a courier while he’s on the job, and once the mark is taken care of, he leaves no trace he was ever there, which usually means the assistant meets his demise as well. However, while in Bangkok, Joe’s current assistant, Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm), discovers that Joe is a hitman, asks Joe to teach him what he knows and become his mentor. With Joe being on his last job, he agrees and finds himself breaking his own rules (“Don't ask questions. Don't take an interest in people outside of work. Erase every trace. Know when it's time to get out”) and developing a conscience. After meeting Aom (Panward Hemmanee), a beautiful deaf girl, and is smitten with her, Joe is torn between the life he hopes to leave behind and what his life could be. Unfortunately, breaking his own rules has consequences and he not only puts his own life in danger, but the lives of the people he reluctantly cares about.
Tightly directed by The Pang Brothers (The Eye), this action thriller definitely delivers what the trailer promises including plenty of kick-ass action scenes and even more brooding from Cage (also listed as one of the film’s producers), who at this point, could do the “depressed, silent anti-hero” in his sleep. Although Cage’s performance was adequate, I just felt that throughout the movie, he was just “phoning it in”. For an Academy Award winner (and two-time nominee), I just expected a little more. The film picks up in the third act, with an unexpected twist at the end that really came as a surprise. It’s not as “fun” as Con Air or Face/Off, but none the less, I enjoyed the film and I’m definitely going to check out the original version as a result.
The Video – 4 ½ out of 5
Using my Sony BDP-S350 Blu-Ray / DVD player and my Sanyo PLV-1080 HD projector (HDMI v. 1.3b, 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 420p, full 1920 x 1080 resolution, 10,000:1 contrast), I watched Bangkok Dangerous on my 120" Da-Lite Home Theater Screen. My player kicked the standard DVD up to 1080P and it was a beautiful, sharp DVD transfer with very little edge enhancement or noise. There was absolutely no dust or debris but there was some apparent grain in the image; however after having watched the film and I could be wrong, but I believe the grain in the image was intended and in no way took away from the viewing experience. Using colors to depict moods throughout the film, deep reds, greens and blues popped off the screen and were bright and clean. Fleshtones were accurate and blacks were deep with exceptional shadow detail for a standard DVD.
The Audio / Sound – 4 out of 5
I played the audio through my Yamaha RX-V663 amp (665 Watts w/ up to 7.1 Surround, Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital + and DTS HD Master Audio) and the 5.1 Dolby Digital EX soundtrack was exceptionally active and lively and immersed you into the atmosphere of the film. It had an amazing soundstage during the action scenes and a solid use of surround and LFEs. My only complaint was Bryan Tyler’s score seemed to be muddled with a preponderance of bass and was overwhelming at times throughout the film. Dialogue was crisp, free and clear of distortion.
The Extras – 2 out of 5
“From Hong Kong to Bangkok: A Look at Hong Kong Cinema” (1:78.1 anamorphic widescreen, 15:20) The Pang Brothers, Nicolas Cage and Film Critic David Chute discuss their love of Hong Kong cinema and how it inspired Bangkok Dangerous.
"Bangkok Dangerous: The Execution of the Film” (1:78.1 anamorphic widescreen, 13:29) The Producers, Directors and stars talk about the experience of making the film
“Alternate Ending” (1:78.1 anamorphic widescreen, 8:37) Drastically different ending than what ended up in the final film
“Theatrical Trailer” (1:78.1 non-anamorphic, 2:12)
“Also From Lionsgate” Collection of trailers (also at the beginning of the disc) that includes the theatrical trailer for My Bloody Valentine 3-D (1:78.1 non-anamorphic), The Spirit (2:35.1 anamorphic), Saw V (1:78.1 anamorphic), Disaster Movie (1:78.1 anamorphic), My Best Friend’s Girl (1:85.1 non-anamorphic), Crank (1:78.1 non-anamorphic), Lord of War (2:35.1 non-anamorphic)
Second disc is a digital copy of Bangkok Dangerous compatible with iPod, iPhone, Apple TV and Windows Media Player (not compatible with PSP or Zune).
NOTE: I hate when they call these things “2-Disc Special Editions” when the second disc is merely a digital copy of the film!
Despite what critics said, It’s not a bad action thriller. If you are a fan of The Pang Brothers or the genre, it’s certainly worth the rental if not a purchase to complete your Nicolas Cage collection. In my opinion, compared to the other action thriller that came out on the same day called Righteous Kill, I’d have to say that this was the better of the two films.
Overall Score – 3 out of 5
Release Date: January 6, 2009
My DVD Collection: DVD Profiler, by Invelos Software, Inc.