Bangkok Dangerous


*minor spoilers ahead*

After a series of disappointing movie rentals (don’t even get me started about Traitor and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor), we finally came through with a winner in Bangkok Dangerous.


Now, if you’re in the Chili household, you’ve got to get past Mr. Chili’s impressions of Nicolas Cage before you can sit down to watch any film in which Cage stars.  Moonstruck, and the over-the-top performance that Cage delivered (particularly this scene; you can stop watching after about 3:45) left a scar burned deeply into Mr. Chili’s psyche, and his crooked arm comes up and shakes at the mere mention of the actor’s name.  Regardless, once he gets that out of his system, he’s fine, so we popped in the disc and hoped for the best.

The atmosphere of the film is chaotic and dangerous, much like the city of Bangkok is described by the main character, a hit man named Joe.  A professional who is very good at his job, Joe gives us, in voice-over at the opening of the film, the four rules he lives by:

1. Don’t ask questions.
2. Don’t take an interest in people outside of work.
3. Erase every trace.
4. Know when it’s time to get out.

As the film opens, Joe is contemplating retirement.  He’s got one more job to pull – or, rather, a series of four jobs – in Thailand and then he can disappear into the proveribal woodwork a rich man.  He gets himself into the country and, from there, proceeds to break the first three of his rules, out of order, in ways that seem so subtle we’re not quite sure he realizes he’s doing it.

In places, the story reminded me a bit of Leon: The Professional.  Cage, like Reno, has an excellent temperament for brooding, understated loner characters (though, strangely, he rarely plays this type of man, which I think is a shame.)  As in The Professional, the main character operates in a bubble of calm and observation while the rest of the world buzzes and careens and pulses around him.  That juxtaposition, so often found in hit-man movies (Shooter had a similar feel) is something that resonates with me; that someone can find an almost Zen-like center and carry out calculated execution is something that fascinates me in its contradiction.

The film is, of course, violent (it’s a movie about a hit man, after all) but it’s rarely gory and, in fact, the most shocking scene (and, perhaps, the one upon which Joe’s entire fate pivots) is one in which the violence that Joe does is a surprise even to him; something that is instinctual and unexpected, rather than the meticulously planned and orchestrated hits for which he is hired.  The ripple effect that this moment has on his life – or, rather, the life that he imagines he might have – is what ultimately allows him to not break rule #4.

I’m still turning the last scene over in my head.  If you’ve seen the film and want to talk about it, email me at mrschili at comcast dot net; I don’t want to give away the ending here.

All in all, I found this film deeply satisfying.  It didn’t spoon-feed its audience, there weren’t a whole lot of obvious plot devices, and the ending wasn’t all wrapped up in a neat little bow.  I’ll be thinking about this film for a while and, more often than not, that’s exactly what I want in a movie.


4 Responses to “Bangkok Dangerous”

  1. nhfalcon Says:

    I have to admit that I had no intention of giving this movie any attention simply because of Cage. While I certainly don’t hold him in the same contempt I normally hold for, say, Ben Stiller, he’s just never thrilled me. I’ve liked some of the movies he’s been in (Fire Birds, The Rock, Face-Off, Con Air), but not because of him.

    After this review, however, maybe I’ll give it a whirl. You were, after all, Mrs. Chili, spot-on with Shooter.

  2. Kizz Says:

    The only thing I really like Cage in is Moonstruck, funnily enough. He’s in a different movie than everyone else he’s acting beside but I love the story so much I can forgive it.

    What’s the one where he’s some sort of devil on a motorcycle with his head on fire? That’s not this one is it? Doesn’t sound like it from your description.

  3. nhfalcon Says:

    I think that’s Ghost Rider, Kizz. It’s based on a Marvel Comics character. I’ve never seen it, so I couldn’t tell you if it was any good.

  4. Mrs. Chili Says:

    I DID see Ghost Rider, and I liked it. Now, keep in mind that I am NOT familiar with the comic books upon which the film was supposedly based, so I was able to see it from an entirely fresh/unbiased perspective. It was a fun bit of fluff, but folks who saw it with me who WERE up on the comic books said the film “sucked.” Take that for what it’s worth…

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