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Bangkok Dangerous

The hyper-kinetic verve of the ’80s Hong Kong action pictures with which John Woo made his name lives on in this exuberant Thai crime thriller from world cinema’s latest pair of film-making brothers. Twins Danny and Oxide Pang (yes, you did read that right) themselves worked as an editor and video colourist respectively in Hong Kong before returning to their homeland to collaborate for the first time on this eye-catching offering about an implacable deaf-mute hitman. It turns out that Kong (Pawal Mongkolpisit) is a natural for his deadly calling; working at an underground firing range where he by chance picks up a pistol and finds he’s a deadeye shot, he’s discovered by hired gun Joe (Pisek Intrakanchit). The latter takes him under his wing and sets him up with a series of lucrative assignments picking off scheming magnates, although at the same time Kong finds the glimmerings of romance with a kindly pharmacy counter girl. The backroom machinations of the boys’ underworld superiors however, makes theirs a most precarious livelihood.
While the plot’s a collection of well-worn genre elements (honour and loyalty among thieves, the redemptive love of a good woman, etc), the whizz-bang stylistic energy the Pangs bring to the proceedings makes most homegrown gangster fare look positively moribund by comparison. Varying the visual texture with a variety of different film stocks, flitting back and forth in time at will, flinging the camera around with giddying abandon, and happily borrowing from Wong Kar-Wai’s trademark neon glow, they communicate an excitement about the whole moviemaking process which proves cumulatively infectious. Hollywood eat your heart out.

Thailand, 2000. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 105 mins.

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