Joe (Nicolas Cage) is a hitman, one of the best in the business thanks to his set of rules which he sticks to without wavering. Rules like never leave any trace behind, never get involved with anyone socially, as it's all about the job for him and everything else is superfluous. However, after one assassination looks to be winning him unwelcome attention he heads to Bangkok to start up activities there, continuing much as he always did and working for shady gangsters who want their way. Yet Joe's rules, in this exotic country, are made to be broken...
Bangkok Dangerous started life as the notable debut from the Pang Brothers around ten years before this was made, but it had been such a worldwide success for them that when the chance arose to revisit it with a far bigger star, the Pangs seized the opportunity. Yet for the most part, even those who enjoyed the first version were left feeling let down by what they had done to spruce up what had been a fairly straightforward, flashy, low budget thriller, and for the audience members growing impatient with Nicolas Cage this was not about to change their minds.
Actually, while it may not have been the greatest thriller of the decade, it wasn't quite a total disaster as you could comfortably view it as a bog standard action suspense piece and emerge from it passably entertained. If anything, this looked more like an information film by the Thai tourist board for some of the time, because no opportunity was passed up to allow us to see the sights of that country that would have appealed to the visitor, from the nightclubs to the picturesque spots, although the latter don't seem so peaceful when Cage is shooting his way through them.
Joe settles down to his line of work by hiring a lowlife called Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm) to be his go-between, with every intention of killing him once he's outlasted his usefulness as Joe has done many times before, but that heart of ice begins to thaw, maybe it's the climate or the national character, and the hitman decides he quite likes a chemist (Charlie Yeung) he meets who happens to be a deaf mute. Now, in the original it was the killer who was deaf, but the Pangs evidently had a rethink and wondered if Cage signing his way through the movie not saying a word was quite the thing to do, but there were a number of differences between the two works.
There were obvious similarities as well, largely in individual scenes, though enough was different to render this distinct on its own, even if you were likely to be comparing the two had you seen the original and were pondering over the usefulness of the whole remake thing. The action was sparse, but fairly well orchestrated, yet you were more often left examining what form Cage's unusual barnet took this time, or making note of the fact that a picture of an elephant with its trunk pointing down was bad luck in Thailand - our star also got to act alongside a pachyderm in one would-be charming sequence, so there was that. But Cage was not exactly the kind of presence who would easily melt into the background even in his American-set movies, making the thought that he could slip through the law's fingers when he was so recognisable hard to swallow. That said, there was an aquatic variation on the car chase fruit cart upending - worth waiting for, cliché fans. Music by Brian Tyler.