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The life of Joe, an anonymous assassin, takes an unexpected turn when he travels to Thailand to complete a series of contract killings. Joe, a remorseless hitman, is in Bangkok to execute four enemies of a ruthless crime boss named Surat. He hires Kong, a street punk and pickpocket, to run errands for him with the intention of covering his tracks by killing him at the end of the assignment. Strangely, Joe, the ultimate lone wolf, finds himself mentoring the young man instead whilst simultaneously being drawn into a tentative romance with a local shop girl. As he falls further under the sway of Bangkok's intoxicating beauty, Joe begins to question his isolated existence and let down his guard--just as Surat decides it's time to clean house.
For more about Bangkok Dangerous and the Bangkok Dangerous Blu-ray release, see Bangkok Dangerous Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 23, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Charlie Young, Chakrit Yamnarm, Panward Hemmanee, Dom Hetrakul, Nirattisai Kaljaruek
Directors: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang Chun
» See full cast & crew
Bangkok Dangerous Blu-ray Review
Nicolas Cage's latest film makes for a suitable high definition experience.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 23, 2008
My name's Joe. This is what I do.
Consider for a moment the sub-genre of films that build a plot around the life of a hit man. Most any of them play out something like this: hit man has done more than his fair share of dirty deeds over the years, wants out, decides to do that one final job, and later comes to regret the decision. Bangkok Dangerous plays out to a point as an amalgamation of every hit man movie cliché there is, but because the basic structure isn't as widely overblown as something most everyone has seen one hundred times over, like an average slasher picture, this film manages to remain somewhat fresh, entertaining, and most importantly, watchable. Also in the film's favor is something of an unexpected finale that doesn't follow bad movie convention. Rather than simply taking the plot points from the previous two acts, tossing them all into a grinder, and churning out some sloppy, uneventful, meaningless, expected conclusion, Bangkok Dangerous offers a nice little twist ending that is anything but candy coated and happily-ever-after, and not even as one might expect as the plot develops over the first 90 minutes of the film.
Bangkok Dangerous follows the twilight of hit man Joe's (Nicolas Cage, Lord of War) career as he travels to Bangkok for a final mission. He lives by a simple set of four rules, the last of which tells him to get out of the game before becoming too soft, relaxed, and himself an assassin's target. Upon arrival in the "corrupt, dirty, and dense" city, Joe hires a middle man, a street merchant named Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm), to act as a liaison between himself and his employers. Meanwhile, Joe becomes romantically involved with a deaf-mute drugstore clerk named Fon (Charlie Young). Both of these relationships break his rules of the trade. As Joe leads a double life, taking out targets while carving out a sense of normalcy through his relationship with Fon, will his mismanagement of the rules of the game be his demise?
Bangkok Dangerous's odd yet somewhat enticing mixture of convention and surprise finale makes for a movie both easy to denigrate but not all that hard to praise. It plays out predictably enough, to a point, then becomes its own entity by the end. The events surrounding the first hour of the film play out in typical action movie fashion, pointing to a conclusion that, to the movie's credit, never materializes. Upon further reflection, subtle hints point to the unanticipated conclusion, particularly the film's bleak appearance (see the video review) which foreshadows the ending nicely. The film's first two acts are straightforward and easy to watch though not all that engaging; they are never mind numbingly bad nor dull enough to leave audiences squirming in their seats. Rather, the film is surprisingly engaging, the characters developed well enough, and the pacing just right, to hold audience attention. The action is sufficient but unremarkable, though the love angle works slightly better here than it does in other movies of this sort.
Bangkok Dangerous is an action movie at its most basic levels, and it is in the action sequences that the film takes on something of a hit-or-miss quality. As the film opens, viewers witness Joe methodically taking out a target in a very stylish and to-the-point sequence, accompanied by an adrenaline-pumping score courtesy of Brian Tyler (Rambo). Despite this stylish and mostly exciting opening kill, the action sequences the rest of the way through are not all that interesting from a visual perspective, playing out as standard and stale action movie stunts and shootouts. Nevertheless, like the rest of the movie, the scenes are oddly engaging despite a sense of "been there, done that" repetitiveness.
Joe's romantic relationship with Fon is perhaps the most interesting angle the film has to offer. The script never makes her a prop or pawn on which to hinge the action. Rather, she becomes a part of Joe's life, and although he is not forthright with her, his humanity and compassion effect his actions later in the film. The relationship is well-integrated into the plot and rewards viewers with a gentle tug of the heartstrings in one or two places. Cage and Young share a good chemistry together, and the challenge of developing a relationship between Joe and a deaf-mute woman requires more than sappy dialogue; the acting must be genuine and the direction true to pull it off, and Cage, Young, and the Pang Brothers (Re-Cycle) do just that. Without spoiling the film, it is this relationship that sets the film apart from others, and Bangkok Dangerous never falls into movie convention by taking the relationship to the expected conclusion.
Bangkok Dangerous Blu-ray, Video Quality
Bangkok Dangerous sights in on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate with a 1080p transfer and framed in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The film offers something of a stylized look that doesn't stand out as too odd or distracting, but it also doesn't lend itself very well to top-flight high definition eye candy, either. This is a very dark movie, and one that is also extremely grainy, which lends a unique, but very cinematic, look and feel to the film. Blacks, in which the film is bathed, are stable but sometimes veer towards being a bit too bright. The dark nights on the Bangkok streets are punctuated nicely by spots of neon color that offer the best bit of vibrancy throughout the image. Interior shots are mostly drab and only moderately-at-best lit. As a result of the dark, stylized, drab look, flesh tones take on a yellowish, slightly green tint in many shots. Still, detail is adequate; many close-ups of Nicolas Cage's face reveal all the finest of nuances. However, fine detail is rather low elsewhere. Most objects, foreground and background, appear soft and undefined. What there is to see does look great; a boating scene in chapter nine reveals excellent color reproduction and above average detail on many objects. The finale is bathed in various colors, red and blue, primarily, that again add to the stylized look of the film. Bangkok Dangerous will never be a reference grade disc, but the transfer appears to be an accurate representation of the film's intended look and feel.
Bangkok Dangerous Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Bangkok Dangerous explodes onto Blu-ray with a full-fledged DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless soundtrack. Both Brian Tyler's score, and the various bass-heavy popular music numbers, play out with excellent spacing, shooting out of every speaker with plenty of bass thrown in for good measure. A club scene in chapter three is one of the more lively scenes yet on Blu-ray, as the pulse-pounding techno beats permeate every square inch of the listening area, effectively turning the home theater into a vivacious dance club. Several similar scenes play throughout the movie. Gun shots tear through the soundstage with an exciting amount of punch and vigor, as do several motorcycle sequences. The soundtrack creates a nice subtle atmosphere in many scenes, bringing various places and events to life. For example, a rain and thunderstorm scene in chapter eight lends a nice audible effect that adds some sonic flair to one of the film's romantic sequences. The action begins to erupt in chapter 12 with gunshots going off in every direction, cracking and impacting all over the soundstage, and taking advantage of every speaker. It's not 3:10 to Yuma, but it works, and is a good, clean, fun action movie listen.
Bangkok Dangerous Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Bangkok Dangerous comes to Blu-ray with a smaller supplemental package than what would have been ideal. Things get started with From Hong Kong to Bangkok (1080i, 15:21). This piece looks at the development and influence of Asian Cinema, hosted by film critic David Chute. 'Bangkok Dangerous:' The Execution of the Film (1080i, 13:31) features a series of cast and crew interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and clips from the film as discussions about the original film, shooting in Bangkok, the themes and style of the film, and more, make up the bulk of the feature. Also included is an alternate ending (1080p, 8:38), the film's theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:14), and additional 1080p trailers for My Bloody Valentine 3-D, The Spirit, War, Crank, Lord of War, and The Punisher. This disc is also "Molog" enabled, allowing users with a BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0)-enabled player to discuss the film with other users as it plays.
Disc two of this set features a digital copy of the film for playback on personal computers and select portable video devices, including the Apple iPod. Played back on a second generation iPod touch, the video quality is acceptable and on par with other digital copies, with fine color and decent detail and depth, but with the occasional blocking problems, particularly in the blacks. The sound presentation is of a higher quality, with a good presence across the two channels and average dialogue reproduction and sound effects.
Bangkok Dangerous Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Bangkok Dangerous is a difficult film to judge. It's not Leon, for sure, but it is an enjoyable ride that plays better than it should and ends with a most unexpected final shot. The film is far better than its paltry box office take may lead one to believe, and it offers more meaning and depth upon closer examination than do other movies of this sort. This is by no means a historical, or even all that memorable, film, but it does make for a rewarding 90+ minutes for those with an open mind willing to give it a chance. Lionsgate's Blu-ray release of Bangkok Dangerous is something of a letdown. The picture quality is sure to disappoint many viewers, though it appears to replicate the film's intended look nicely enough. The 7.1 lossless audio option is a step above, featuring a dynamic and exciting listen. Unfortunately for fans, the disc is short on extras. As such, Bangkok Dangerous makes for a very solid rental, and fans should not be hesitant to add this to their collections when the price is right.
Bangkok Dangerous: Other Editions
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Bangkok Dangerous Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - January 6th - January 6, 2009
During the 60th Annual Academy Awards, it was almost unthinkable that an independently produced film would manhandle the top studio films of that year, but that is exactly what happened. Documenting the life of Pu Yi, 'The Last Emperor' won nine Oscars, winning ...
• Lionsgate Details Bangkok Dangerous and Disaster Movie - October 16, 2008
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced the special features for the upcoming Blu-ray releases of 'Bangkok Dangerous' and 'Disaster Movie', both due to hit store shelves on January 6th. Technical specs are still yet to be revealed, but you can expect 1080p AVC ...
• Bangkok Dangerous and Disaster Movie for January - October 10, 2008
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Nicholas Cage film 'Bangkok Dangerous' and the comedy 'Disaster Movie' to Blu-ray on January 6th, day-and-date with the DVD releases. No technical specs have been announced at this time, though ...
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