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With: Claire Danes, Kate Beckinsale, Bill Pullman, Daniel Lapaine, Jacqui Kim, Lou Diamond Phillips
Written by: David Arata, based on a story by David Arata, Adam Fields
Directed by: Jonathan Kaplan
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language, drug related material and some violent content
Running Time: 100
Date: 03/19/2013

Brokedown Palace (1999)

2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Jonathan Kaplan can never seem to decide whether he's making an exploitation film or a social drama and Brokedown Palace is one more example of this. He started out in exploitation B-pictures like Night Call Nurses (1972) and Truck Turner (1974) but has more recently turned to serious films like The Accused (1988) and Love Field (1992). This new work is a prison movie in which two teenage girls (Claire Danes and Kate Beckinsale) take a trip to Thailand and get busted for transporting heroin. Bill Pullman co-stars as an American lawyer who tries to get the girls out. Brokedown Palace is not unlike Kaplan's The Slams (1973), starring Jim Brown (The Dirty Dozen) as a prisoner caught for stealing heroin. Both movies feature escape attempts and authorities who play mind games with the prisoners. But Brokedown Palace wants to be taken seriously, so it plays down potential exploitation elements, such as cat fights, shower scenes, and the stock "evil warden" character. Still, thanks to Danes' fearless performance and the colorful atmosphere, Brokedown Palace mostly works. In the end, though, I would have swapped its seriousness for the amusement of The Slams.

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