Bangkok redemption

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 August, 2008, 12:00am

After years as a cold-blooded assassin, Nicolas Cage's character learns to love

Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage plays a killer in the thrilling remake of the 1999 action film Bangkok Dangerous.

Directed by Danny and Oxide Pang, the Hong Kong directing duo who also made the original, the film focuses on Joe (Cage), a heartless hitman who goes to Bangkok on an assignment. He hires Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm), a street criminal, to run errands for him, fully intending to kill him and destroy any evidence as soon as his mission is accomplished.

One of the best assassins in the field, Joe follows four rules that are essential to his success: don't ask questions; don't get to know people outside of work; erase every trace; and know when to get out.

Against his better judgement, Joe breaks all the rules when, instead of killing Kong, he mentors him, and then falls in love with Thai shop girl Fon (Charlie Young). Having spent most of his life as a cold, pitiless murderer, these attitude changes make Joe question his isolated existence and ruthless actions.

The directors were committed to providing the audience with an accurate view of everyday Thai life. For example, one of the movie's most gripping shooting scenes was filmed at the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, one of Thailand's tourist hotspots. To keep it as realistic as possible, market vendors and tourists were invited to carry on with their daily routine while the scene was being filmed.

Nicolas Cage, whose impressive resume includes Leaving Las Vegas, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Ghost Rider and National Treasure, believes the remake will be better than the original.

'The Pang brothers have obviously thought a lot about this movie, making changes to the original and trying to improve it as much as they can,' he says.

Cage refused to let political uprisings disrupt production. Filmed entirely in Bangkok and other Thai provinces, some scenes were shot during the 2006 military coup. Cage ignored advice to stay out of Thailand until this unsettling period was over, but sent his family out of the country.

The Pang twins became known for their Asian horror films after directing the hugely successful The Eye (2002), which led to two sequels, The Eye 2 (2004) and The Eye 10 (2005).

In the original movie, the hitman was a deaf-mute, but the character was modified for the remake.

'We'd like to keep [the hitman] the same, but we understand that from a marketing point of view Nic [Cage] needs some lines,' said Oxide Pang.

Instead, Joe's girlfriend, Fon, is deaf and mute. Charlie Young, a popular Hong Kong actress and singer known for her roles in The Lovers (1994) and Jackie Chan's New Police Story (2004), recognised the difficulty of portraying a girl with disabilities.

'Because I could not express my emotions through speech, I could only use body language and facial expressions to communicate,' she says. 'It was a very challenging and enjoyable role for me.'

Opens September 4