Friday 28 August 2020

"One Night in Bangkok" (Guardian 28/08/20)

One Night in Bangkok **
Dir: Wych Kaosayananda. With: Mark Dacascos, Vanida Golten, Prinya Intachai, Kane Kosugi. 105 mins. Cert: 15

Lacking much else, this VOD-bound actioner offers two unexpected comebacks for the price of one. The star’s Mark Dacascos, erstwhile straight-to-video stalwart aiming to convert his nifty John Wick 3 cameo into a second leading-man career. Behind the camera is Wych Kaosayananda, formerly just Kaos, the wildly overhyped Thai tyro exported at the height of Hollywood’s millennial Asian-cinema fetish to oversee 2002’s megaflop Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. His latest is a baby step up from that – cheap, self-produced tat being preferable to aggressively expensive corporate tat – but still feels underpowered: ironically, it’s the kind of B-pic a studio would have bulked up, cut tighter and transformed into a halfway worthy rental prospect.

The pitch would be Collateral updated for the age of Uber; it plays, alas, like Collateral with the handbrake on. Dacascos’s Kai is the mysterious stranger with a score to settle who jets into Bangkok at 4pm, hails the cab of fresh-faced Fha (Vanida Golten) and spends the next twelve hours shooting people clean through the forehead. Unusually for an action movie, there’s next to no real action for an hour: the plot sets Kai in front of his targets, and – pop – off we drive to the next location. We’re left with all the lowish-octane thrills that follow from watching a man ticking items off his to-do list, and Kaosayananda makes such a deathly plod of it that vast stretches appear to be proceeding in real time.

Always one of the more likable DTV stars, Dacascos brings a supermarket own-brand appropriation of Keanu’s Zen chivalry to Kai’s task; we just about buy why Fha doesn’t kick him out after he starts bleeding all over her backseat. His future employment isn’t in doubt. Bigger question marks, however, hang over our old friend Kaos. He gives the Bangkok sights a basic nocturnal sheen – even reviving the kind of stripjoint T&A safari we all thought went out with the demise of Nuts magazine – but also floods scenes with the deadest of dead air in a vain push for atmosphere, and seems to think two negligibly different angles of the same dull shot will make for a dynamic, DePalma-like split screen. Stick to the Murray Head song.

One Night in Bangkok is now streaming via iTunes. 

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