“Bangkok Dangerous” is a style-rich, substance-weak B-level gangster movie which is noteworthy for two unusual reasons: it is one of the very few films from Thailand to gain international release and it is the perhaps the only film of its genre to feature a love story between a hit man and a pharmacist.
“Bangkok Dangerous” focuses on an unlikely assassin named Kong (Pawalit Mongkolpsit, who resembles the late George Harrison in his “White Album” photo). Kong is a cold-blooded hit man who has been mute since childhood; the film opens with a nasty childhood flashback, shot in a grainy color meant to represent Super 8mm photography, showing the young Kong being stoned by neighborhood kiddie-bullies. Kong goes about his assignments with stunning accuracy and nary a trace of emotional doubt. In fact, his abilities are so remarkable that crime lords in Hong Kong fly him over to dispatch various bad guys for them. However, love unexpectedly interferes with Kong’s trigger work when he finds himself falling in love with an unusually gorgeous pharmacist (who, of course, has a less-than-attractive giggly overweight sidekick at the pill counter making hubba-hubba remarks about Kong). Needless to say, problems arise for this unlikely pair as the pretty pharmacist discovers her new boyfriend’s profession and Kong discovers his long-untapped humanity while trying to execute his biggest hit to date.
Written and directed by the Hong Kong brother act of Oxide and Danny Pang, “Bangkok Dangerous” is overripe with every camera, editing and sound trick imaginable. The film is flushed with enough titled angles, slow-mo, repeated action from different angles, squealing chases, garish colors and wall-to-wall sound to fill the quota of a year’s worth of B-Movies. While technically efficient, the filmmakers forgot to bring any sense of emotional or intellectual style to their work. The actors behave like a bunch of bad actors attempting to be underworld denizens: plenty of deeply theatrical puffing on cigarettes, a lot of screaming threats into cell phones, and an excess of sneering and squinting glares among the cast members. All that’s missing is Eric Roberts chewing the scenery and you can have just another direct-to-video shoot-’em-up…except here the dialogue is in Thai with English subtitles.
“Bangkok Dangerous” ultimately calls to mind Macbeth’s lament on the coming of tomorrow: full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.