<! this is just a line spacer>
<! pre preserves exact line breaks and spacing> <! ... here if you don't want the directed by sidebox on the left with the actor's names>
Nicholas Cage has made some bizarre choices of roles in his career, probably none more peculiar than "The Wicker Man," in which he plays the sacrificial lamb to a society of women. And yet he sometimes makes great choices too: "Moonstruck," for one; and the underrated "Lord of War" for another.
Now he's the producer and star of the new film "Bangkok Dangerous," which is a remake of a 1999 film of the same name by two Hong Kong filmmakers, the twin brothers Oxide and Danny Pang. "Bangkok Dangerous" is the story of an assassin - Cage - whom we meet first in Prague doing his thing. All we know is that his name is Joe, which might be any name at all. But after he completes his assignment in Prague the film shifts to Bangkok, where he has another assignment, this time to kill four men. one after the other. In the meantime Joe tells us that he cannot let himself get involved with anyone; he must be invisible to all. This time, though, in Bangkok, he feels he needs an assistant, what we call a gofer, to help him; he finds one on the street in a pickpocket named Kong.
Kong is so eager to learn that Cage soon regards him as his student, and he himself is Kong's teacher. And then one night after he's been slightly wounded by a goon, he comes to a pharmacy for bandages and is waited on by a deaf-mute clerk, a beautiful young woman, whom he asks out to dinner and finds himself falling in love with her.
At the same time his last assignment is to kill a much-loved political leader, which he refuses to do, saying to his boss that politics is off-limits to his work. Naturally, the boss then turns on Joe, in a climax that's all too reminiscent of about a thousand other films. And yet even here the film fools us with its ending.
Cage, now in his forties, seems very self-conscious about his male-pattern baldness, and makes some very odd choices of hairpieces; "Bangkok Dangerous" has one of the worst, with dreadlocks falling down over his shoulders. Nevertheless, he throws himself into the part as Joe the assassin, and the film actually turns out to be a very watchable hour and fifty minutes.
9/5/08 <! new pasted review ends on line above>