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With: Pawalit Mongkolpisit, Pisek Intrakanchit, Patharawin Timkul, Premsinee Ratanasopha
Written by: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang
Directed by: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and sexuality
Language: Thai with English subtitles
Running Time: 105
Date: 18/03/2013

Bangkok Dangerous (2001)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Deaf Con One

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Sometimes the timing is just off.

On the one hand, I watched the new Thai film Bangkok Dangerous with an open mind, and I do concede that it's a slick, stylish and well-made thriller. If I had seen it last year, or even a few months ago, I surely would have got a bang out of it. But having recently viewed such explosive Asian works as Takashi Miike's Dead or Alive from Japan, Tsui Hark's Time and Tide from Hong Kong and Myung-se Lee's Nowhere to Hide from Korea, I found that Bangkok Dangerous just didn't make the bar.

Written and directed by brothers Danny Pang and Oxide Pang, the film follows the adventures of a deaf, mute contract killer named Kong (Pawalit Mongkolpisit). Rescued from his job at a practice firing range, he is taken in by Joe (Pisek Intrakanchit) and Aom (Patharawin Timkul), who train him to kill. After Joe's hand is wounded in a shoot-out, Kong takes over the business alone.

But of course a girl comes into the picture. Kong meets the lovely Fon (Premsinee Ratanasopha) in a pharmacy, and they fall in love. Just as inevitably, she learns that he's a contract killer when he instinctively defends her and himself from a pair of muggers in a park.

The film opens with a shot from the point of view of a newt hanging upside down on the ceiling of a bathroom, as Joe performs one of his last jobs, killing the punk who raped Aom. The Pangs use a kind of security camera look for this shot, full color for other shots and scratchy home movies for older flashbacks. Stylistically, Bangkok Dangerous shares a lot in common with Wong Kar-wai's great films (like Days of Being Wild), but it feels more like a copycat than a real artistic contender.

More to the point, Bangkok Dangerous is one of two movies made by a budding Thai production company called Film Bangkok, and to my knowledge it's one of the first Thai films ever to be distributed in the United States.

The other, Wisit Sasanatieng's lurid, candy-colored western, Tears of the Black Tiger, looks far more interesting. It was unfortunately picked up for distribution by Miramax, which means that it will probably share shelf space with Abbas Kiarostami's Through the Olive Trees and Jacques Tati's color version of Jour de Fete and never see the light of day.

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