One debate among film critics is whether it's necessary to know the original version to appreciate an adaptation or remake. Aside from those deeply immersed in Asian action cinema, most average filmgoers won't care if the new Bangkok Dangerous is true to the 1999 original from Thailand of the same name. They just want to know if it's an exciting Nicolas Cage action flick.
The problems begin with a key difference between the two films, both directed by The Pang Brothers. The original (which I've not seen) centered on a deaf-mute assassin named Kong—emotionally detached from the world because of his condition and uniquely skilled since he can't be distracted by sound. However, Kong gradually learns to appreciate life after building some meaningful relationships during his latest assignment, causing him to rethink his priorities when those friendships are threatened by his employers.
Now you'd think an American remake might keep its focus on the one quality that makes this story unique: the deaf-mute anti-hero. Thinking of movies like There Will Be Blood and Cast Away, it seems like this would be an interesting opportunity for a talented director and leading actor to similarly tell a story with minimal dialogue—in an action film, no less. Instead, the Pangs downplay the key plot point in their remake; only the character names and the general outline remain the same.
Here the assassin is Joe (Cage), who is not a deaf-mute, but still very much cold and detached (maybe because he's borrowing the same bad hair sported by Tom Hanks in The Da Vinci Code). Beginning the movie with the same weary narration that Cage uses in so many of his other films, we learn that this experienced killer is ready to retire, looking ...1
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