Bangkok Dangerous (2000)

Rating: B-

Dir: Oxide and Danny Pang
Star: Pawalit Mongkolpisit, Premsinee Ratanasopha, Patharawarin Timkul, Pisek Intrakanchit

Roll that cast list around your tongue. Yum. The film comes out of Thailand, which makes it a rarity, but it could really be set in the slums of any big city, and the story too has little new to offer. Kong is a deaf/dumb killer (the ideal sort), who falls in love, has his best friend murdered – the usual sort of stuff. However, the Pang brothers do add a lot of style…an awful lot of style, to the point where you may find yourself reaching for the popcorn in garishly-lit slow-motion. Much as with Wong Kar-Wai films, I couldn’t help wondering if this was just a shameless attempt to cover up a lack of original thought, or if the story was deliberately kept simple to avoid interfering with the visuals. Danny worked as an editor in Hong Kong for films such as Storm Riders and you can see the “style over substance” ethos has worn off.

Mongkolpisit does well as Kong, overcoming the lack of dialogue with raw emotion. You may not particularly care for him by the end of the movie – it’s hard to pay attention when the Pang Brothers seem intent on going through every artificial trick in the book – but you can see his point of view, in a world that offers very few other opportunities. Give this duo a couple more years to calm down and they could well be demanding attention; between now and then, they can sit back and watch the offers to do music videos come flooding in.