Bangkok Dangerous: 2-Disc Special Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (9th February 2009).
The Film

In 2007, it looked like Nicolas Cage was ready to take the box office over with three major vehicles, two of which grossed over $200 million worldwide; even though the movies themselves weren’t terribly good, they somehow that pulled down incredible amounts of money. Maybe it was the Nic Cage magic touch, he had a bad 2006 with “The Wicker Man,” “World Trade Center” and “The Ant Bully” all under-performing, though “World Trade Center” still did fairly well. So what’s going to happen in 2008? Cage gets back into some R-rated action with “Bangkok Dangerous,” some posters even showed a giant picture of his face to show off how money he had made recently. Unfortunately a poster of his face with some odd-hair extensions wasn’t enough to bring everyone into the theater since the film didn’t even make its money back and managed one of the lowest grossing opening weekends for a film to premier at number one, but it did manage to exceed my expectations.

Cage plays a hitman named Joe who travels the world taking assignments to kill anyone for people with the right amount of money. His mostly solitary lifestyle though has produced some unfortunate loneliness and on his assignment in Thailand, he befriends a local pickpocket named Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm) who he’s hired as his contact with his local employers. As Joe keeps taking assignments and killing those he’s been tasked to, his relationship with Kong develops and Joe takes him under his wing, training Kong in the hitman ways he’s come to perfect. Joe also starts to befriend a local deaf and mute pharmacist, but as he gets closer to those around him his status as an assassin starts to get put in jeopardy as now he has less of a reason to stay in the game and notions of good and bad start to intrude on his cold-hearted killer persona.

The basic story feels almost like a non-dramady “The Matador” (2006), where “The Matador” focused on similar themes tied into the drama of Pierce Brosnan’s character and his comedic interactions with Greg Kinnear, “Bangkok Dangerous” goes for more action, tossing in a bit of romance that doesn’t really work, but the action scenes help to make up for the lacking of drama. Honestly some of the sub-plots, like Joe’s crush on the deaf-mute pharmacist seem a little more out of place, I understand what they’re trying to do, but it feels tacked on rather than a central device of the film. Based on the description of the original Thai “Bangkok Dangerous” (1999), also written/directed by the Pang Brothers (Danny and Oxide), it seems like this was more a hold-over of the original idea of a deaf and mute assassin that was apparently changed when Cage took the role.

Yet keeping to the original point would have made the film much more interesting on a lot of levels, as some of Cage’s voice-over narration and dialogue tends to drag down a movie with some good action sequences. There are the more typical assassin sniper scenes, but also some good fight sequences, including some locals trying to mug Kong in an alleyway, a really sweet boat chase scene that makes good use of the outboard motor’s propeller, and of course the climactic final scene that makes the ending work so well.

Overall, for a film I wasn’t expecting to like at all, I found a lot of enjoyment out of “Bangkok Dangerous” especially in the action sequences. Cage’s acting is fine, he’s not “The Wicker Man” (2006) bad in a good way, but he’s also not as good as the roles that have won him critical acclaim, it’s more on par with late 90’s action Cage, which I’m fine with. The Pang brothers know how to push the action sequences and keep the movie interesting, though the rest of the writing isn’t particularly great, except for the fairly surprising ending that rounds out the film well.

Video

Presented in 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p 24/fps using AVC MPEG-4 compression, the video looks really good, there are a few scenes that have the odd heavy grain that feel a little out of place (though this may be related more to camera or film quality than transfer), but for the most part the film has a nice texture that comes through really clearly. Though most of the film has a very dreary feel, the colors seem to pop whenever they show up, adding a nice style to the film that comes through well in the transfer.

Audio

The audio is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mastered at 48kHz/24-bit as well as a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The DTS-HD track adds a great sound level to the film. All of the audio is really clear and comes through great on the transfer and keeps all of the levels of the gunshots and action in tune well with the film’s soundtrack, moving around the sound system well.
There’s also optional English, English for the hearing impaired and Spanish subtitles.

Extras

The 2-disc set comes equipped with a few special features including 2 featurettes, an alternate ending, the theatrical trailer, bonus trailers and a "MoLog" BD-Live feature.

DISC ONE:

“From Hong Kong to Bangkok” runs for 15 minutes and 21 seconds, this featurette covers the movement of the Pang brothers to film, simultaneously covering the history of Hong Kong action cinema, it’s growth and movement into modern film. The history by David Chute does a good job of covering the history of Hong Kong action cinema and the growth of the Asian action cinema through the Shaw brothers films. Chute drops some good knowledge of the industry and there’s some interesting discussion with the Pang brothers about cinema, overall a nice featurette that’s more a general coverage of a genre than directly connected into the film itself.

“‘Bangkok Dangerous’: The Execution of the Film” runs for 13 minutes and 31 seconds, this featurette basically covers the ground of a general making-of, speaking with the Pang brothers, producers and Cage about the development of the film. Cage talks a bit about his Hollywood action career, the differences between his experience in western action films and with Asian directors. There’s some good behind-the-scenes footage and some interesting discussion of the development of the film and the work of the Pang brothers; a brief, interesting look at the creation and role of the characters, the film and the work of the directors.

The alternate ending runs for 8 minutes and 38 seconds (quick spoiler warning if you haven’t watched the feature), the alternate ending picks up from the very end of the standoff in the warehouse area, just after Joe has saved Kong and takes the gang leader hostage in the car. Instead of going through with the suicide, Joe jumps into a car with Kong and the speed away from the police, the two then get help from the locals since Joe killed Surat. The ending is a little too clean and has some cheesy dialouge, it doesn’t really deliver the same kick that the original did.

The theatrical trailer runs for 2 minutes and 14 seconds.

The bonus trailers on the disc are:

- “My Bloody Valentine 3D” runs for 1 minute and 40 seconds.
- “The Spirit” runs for” 2 minutes and 28 seconds.
- “War” runs for 38 seconds.
- “Crank” runs for 1 minute and 58 seconds.
- “Lord of War” runs for 2 minutes and 13 seconds.
- “The Punisher” runs for 2 minutes and 32 seconds.

Finally is the “Molog” feature exclusive to this Blu-ray disc requires internet access and a profile 2.0 player, this BD-Live feature supposedly lets you add text or images to the film to set it up like a movie blog online.

DISC TWO:

This disc is simply a standard definition digital copy of the film, here it’s a little more understandable to have the digital copy on a separate disc as the blu-ray could easily fit the digital copy space-wise, it’s hard to find people who own blu-ray players, let alone blu-ray rom drives.

Overall

The Film: B- Video: A- Audio: A Extras: C Overall: B-

 


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