Monday, January 25, 2010

Bangkok Dangerous (2000) - 4.5/5

There is just something about the Pang Brothers' style that I can't get over. I pretty much enjoy their visceral visual style in almost everything (their writing tends to be hit or miss and some of the projects they take evoke a solid "what the fuck were you thinking?!" from me - cough "Forest Of Death" cough), but I always seem to find something I love about their work. That includes their original (they also directed the watered down remake) "Bangkok Dangerous".

"Bangkok Dangerous" tells the tale of deaf/mute professional hitman, Kong, as he suddenly finds himself no longer taking life for granted as his world starts to unravel right before his eyes. He falls in love with the pretty pharmacist on the corner drug store, his best friend Joe and Joe's girlfriend find themselves entangled in betrayal, and his own remorse for those he has harmed comes tearing through his psyche. All of this leads him down a path of redemption as he finds that he has few chances to right the wrongs of his life.

It's a damn ballsy story to say the least. Having your protagonist as a deaf/mute is a pretty chancy move considering that he essentially has no dialogue to build his character with or to build a relationship with the viewer with. In fact, Kong never even uses sign language in the film and yet is able to communicate very clearly what is going on. To say the understated, the acting in this film is amazing. Kong is heart tearingly sincere in his work (even without dialogue - so when he finally tries to speak at the end it brings tears to your eyes) and the supporting cast is stellar - with particular nods to his best friend Joe who is absolutely riveting on screen with his kinetic intensity.

All of the great story elements and great acting is just amplified by the visual wizardry of the Pang Brothers. They have this modern and yet old school approach to everything, giving the film this almost fantasy effect whilst never losing that grimy super realism. The low production value of the film also gives "Bangkok Dangerous" an almost grindhouse raw feeling that supports this dirty realism of storytelling. The Pang Brothers utilize what they have very well with this film including all of the negative space (silence for the most part) to create an atmosphere that is engaging. This is one of their best.

"Bangkok Dangerous" is one of those films that remind us of the duality of life. The story is just as heartfelt and sincere as it is ruthless and intense. It's unfortunate that the remake was unable to transfer some of these elements over (it has its moments) and will be the version everyone sees. I picked up my copy of this film ridiculously cheap (like 6.99) so I advise anyone who is a film fan to see this movie. 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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