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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.5%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 12.5%
Pretty Bad75%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 2 user ratings

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Bangkok Revenge
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by Jay Seaver

"An underwhelming script overwhelms some decent action."
2 stars

Some martial-arts action flicks are all-around great movies, and many are capable, if not exceptional. A distressing number, though, are one trick ponies, with good action scenes being held together by connective tissue that is given so much less attention than the fights that the movie practically becomes a tug of war. "Bangkok Revenge"'s action makes a good effort early, but eventually the awful in-between material wears it down.

Twenty years ago, an honest Bangkok cop and his wife were murdered in their bed by a gang of corrupt officers, one of whom is sent into their ten-year-old son's room to finish the job. He does, but Manit miraculously survives the bullet to the head, and is taken by nurse Chanticha (Aphiradi Phawaphutanon) to be secretly raised by herself and a martial-arts master in a small village. The fact that Manit's brain injury seems to have left him without empathy doesn't stop the master from teaching him potentially lethal hand-to-hand combat, which will come in handy when Chanticha gives the grown Manit (Jon Foo) what she has learned about his father's murder on her deathbed. He decides to finish the job, with reporter Clara (Caroline Ducey), Inspector Andana (Pream Busala-Khamvong), and French boxer Simon (Michael Cohen) occasionally joining the quest.

Jon Foo is not yet a big name in the martial arts world, but he's working his way up; he's spent time on Jackie Chan's stunt team, and occasionally been a featured performer when Chan or Tony Jaa needs to take on several guys at once. So it's not particularly surprising that the early action scenes, especially, are a lot of fun to watch. Foo's an athletic guy with a nice balance of raw strength and agility, and much of the movie's first half has him moving straight from one fight to the next, taking on large crowds by taking a bunch down hard (the prosthetic-limb guys had to build a lot of broken legs) and moving quick on others. There are some impressively staged fights, especially in close quarters: Foo gets to show his stuff in an elevator, an automobile, and a subway car, in addition to some battles on more open turf. Another is shown in shadow.

But, ugh, the stuff in between. The opening with Manit as a child runs just slow enough that it's hard to say exactly what could serve to be tightened, but things become a mess later as characters show much less urgency than one would expect. None of the sleuths seem to follow a trail in particularly interesting ways, and writer/director Jean-Marc Mineo overdoes Manit's lack of emotion in one early scene before making a joke of it later (including a sex scene that is deliberately awkward that the audience didn't know what to do with). There's a girl gang full of bizarre costumes that seems like it belongs in a wilder movie, and even the action starts to disappoint a bit toward the end, as Mineo and his editors start cutting from medium shots to close-ups of impacts in a way that makes the audience feel like they're faking it more than they are.

(There's also a running joke about why Manit prefers to speak English that isn't paid off at all, and basically results in much of the movie being in English even though only Foo seems really comfortable in the language, which just exacerbates all of the other between-fights problems.)

Is Foo worth bending everything else in the movie to accommodate? Maybe not in this movie, but he's getting there. He's got enough talent as an actor to give a character who is basically a psychopath on the right side of the fight some charm, and that's not nothing, although he seldom really takes control of the screen. It's tough to judge the rest of the cast; so much of the movie being in English does them no favors. Combine that with the scripts problems, and it's tough for anybody to look good.

And that's why by the end of the movie, despite some promising action and a willingness to make allowances, "Bangkok Revenge" winds up on the disappointing side of the ledger. There's action movie potential there in Mineo as a director and Foo as a star, but this isn't the place where it's going to be realized.

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originally posted: 09/15/12 15:51:20
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User Comments

12/22/14 Carol Just another martial arts film. 3 stars
9/20/12 inam best is the best 5 stars
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  DVD: 26-Mar-2013



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