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:: Bangkok Dangerous

Danny and Oxide Pang brush the dust off of their stylish 1999 Thai thriller in order to rework their magic that incorporates Nicolas Cage in the slick-looking but spotty Bangkok Dangerous. The Pang Brothers' remake yearns to be probing but falls short in its request for a slight redemptive action film that sizzles with moral conflict and confusion.

Joe (Cage), a professional assassin, goes to Thailand for one last job before getting out of the killing game forever. Things get sticky, though, when he violates his own rules by befriending a youngster named Kong (Yamnarm). Cage is believable as the brooding lone-wolf gunman, but the “hit man screwing himself by growing a conscience on his final kill” ploy needs to be put down for good. After Kong has a close call and learns who Joe is, Kong asks him to train him and he does. Joe also meets a local girl who is deaf and spends time with her. However, Joe has a hard time keeping his other life from her. The two begin to date, and though she is oblivious to his profession, she provides some sweetness in his dangerous, lonely life. It also appears that the person who hired Joe, breaks his rule of complete anonymity and tries to find him.

Bangkok Dangerous has an unglamorous slickness that makes it seem as if it could've been made in the late 1980s or early '90s. Cage seems appropriately stoic as Joe, and sports a bizarre mane of jet-black hair. The Bangkok locations are effective and the crowded nighttime streets make for exciting chase sequences. The onscreen violence is not exceptionally graphic with the exception of a realistic arm severing, and one sequence of bullets puncturing a boat as seen from underwater is beautifully shot. Most surprising, though, is the film's final sequence, which is uncharacteristic of most American-made action films.

While Bangkok Dangerous has its moments, little flashes of technical verve that speak to the imagination, they're not enough to make you want to keep watching. There's no denying that the Pangs can engage the mind's eye, but here it's only for a few seconds at a time. If you're feeling adventurous, the original sounds like a much safer bet.