Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bangkok Adrenaline (2009)

I must say I was a bit worried when I started the movie and saw footage of a couple of guys partying in Bangkok. Hand-camera, a bit cheap-looking. But really, after those first minutes Bangkok Adrenaline took of and gave me the most charming and action-filled 90 minutes in a long time. I heard about Bangkok Adrenaline a couple of years ago, and have been waiting ever since to see it and own it, and as a collector of Thai-movies and especially action, it was a long and nervous wait. I've experienced so many disappointments (Hanuman: The White Warrior and The Sanctuary, I'm looking at you two!), a couple of great ones (Fireball and Chocolate) and finally a movie that didn't take itself so seriously, and just was a shameless reason to show a lot of stunts, fighting and bad jokes.

Here's the plot: a bunch of "Farangs", tourists, among them Conan Stevens and Daniel O'Neill, have just spent 3000 bath and need to win them back. John (played by the director himself, Raimund Huber) comes up with the great idea to win them back on poker, at an illegal gambling place - and it ends with them owning money to the mafia boss, one million bath! They get the not so brilliant idea to kidnap a rich mans daughter and claim ransom, but everything - of course - get's fucked up and it ends with them being chased all over Bangkok by literally hundreds of Thai stuntmen... sorry, bad guys! And it's not helping them at all that the daughter is a raving bitch and that they're not just that smart either...

Yeah, I know. It's not much of a story. But compared to a more famous (= over-hyped) movie like The Sanctuary, you actually understands the story here! It might be weak, but still, like all good action movies, it's built around interesting characters and a couple of awesome action-sequences. The movie was budgeted to 500.000 dollars, which even in Thailand is quite small - and especially when you see how big it looks. There's a lot of Bangkok-locations, nice gritty areas, those primitive high-rise buildings, a LOT of stuntmen. Really. I was surprised. There's a couple of scenes when there's an army of henchmen running after our heroes, all involved in some nice advanced fighting and painful stunts! Though it's shot digital it looks very professional and Raimund Huber show himself to be an amazing action director (the action-choreography was created by Ron Smoorenburg, Daniel O'Neill and Gwion Jacob Miles, and it's superb!). He also handles the comedy well, and I can't say all jokes was funny, but I laughed a lot more than I thought I would.

But the main thing is the action, and here we have some really cool stuff. The first big action scene is in a warehouse, and it's one of the best I've seen in a long while. It's Jackie Chan and Tony Jaa, mixed with a European style which I liked a lot. A lot of ouch-that-hurt stunts too, and I must say that it's weird that Daniel O'Neill isn't a bigger star yet. He can fight, has charisma and is handsome too. After this there's a lot of running and chases, until the next big scene which is inside a factory - of course. The bad guy even has the leading lady inside his office, with glass windows - just like in Jackie Chan's Dragons Forever. Here the style of the movie looks cheaper, and the scenes don't look so planned. It's a huge location too, and it's quite dark everywhere where they don't shoot any scenes. But it's not bad, and it keeps up the energy and violence to a nice, juicy level. But it don't end there, and we're also treated to a wonderful fight on a speeding Tuk-Tuk! There's so much more, and I just can't remember it all.

But can the actors carry this movie? Because an action film with good, or at least charismatic, actors can be boring. Yes. In a way it seem like they play themselves a lot, maybe except Conan Stevens who makes a fun and very, very, very stupid brute that just wants to eat and nothing more. It's a classic character, and gives the audience a lot laughs. Daniel O'Neill is excellent, and even Raimund Huber is good. The Thai actors have a bit of a problem with the English language sometimes, but still makes good performances. I also have to mention Priya Suandokemai, who makes a funny, rude and very physical performance as the bitchy daughter Irene.

Bangkok is a very fun and violent action movie, with some fantastic fighting-scenes and excellent use of locations. It can be a bit to silly for some people, but if you just throw away that idea what high class comedy is, you might enjoy even this movie. I can't wait to see what the next movie from these guys are, and I hope it won't take that long to arrive to cinemas and DVD!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very nice article. Only Ron Smoorenburg is the Action Director of the movie. Raymond Huber did the non-action scenes of the movie. Sorry for the adjustment.