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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

BANGKOK ADRENALINE -- DVD review by porfle

I wish there were some way to keep a tally of how many brain cells I lost as BANGKOK ADRENALINE (2009) spin-kicked them into oblivion.  The story is a mess, much of the comedy is aggressively unfunny, and some of the main characters are so stupid and unlikable that I wanted to see them die horribly.  But aside from all that, it's a pretty kickass action flick.

The setting is beautiful downtown Bangkok as four white guys who we immediately can't stand do the "annoying tourist" routine which includes boisterous partying and gambling.  Since they suck at the latter, they end up owing a local crime boss one million batt (I think that's a lot) and will die "a painful and violent death" (yeah!) unless they pay within one week.  Their only logical solution?  You guessed it--kidnapping.

The millionaire whose daughter they snatch, Harris Dawson (Liam Noel Harrison), turns out to be a comically ruthless gang boss.  The daughter, Irene, turns out to be a girl whom our main character, Dan (Daniel O'Neill), dashingly rescued from some street toughs earlier.  She's also quite a handful and gives the guys a lot of trouble until she finds out that her father actually wants her dead in order to inherit all the money she's due to get on her 21st birthday.  So Irene and her erstwhile kidnappers join forces to stick it to Dad, but must deal with his deadly army of hired goons. 

A lot of the early comedy comes from seeing our heroes playfully taunt and terrorize their captive, which is incredibly endearing.  We forgive them because, darn it, they're just plain stupid!  Since Dan rescued her earlier and feels kind of bad about kidnapping her now, and is so cute besides, he's meant to be A-okay in our book.  So is Mike (Gwion Jacob Miles) even when he's threatening to kill Irene.  We know he doesn't really mean it!  Plus, Dan and Mike are martial arts experts, which makes them totally cool. (Note: I'm using sarcasm here!)

Worst of the lot is John (Raimund Huber), a red-dread-head who's a total waste and--God help us--our main comedy relief, along with a towering, musclebound meathead named Conan (Conan Stevens).  When Irene tells Conan she needs to go to the bathroom, the moron puts her in there, still tied to her chair.  John peeks in to check on her, sees the urine splashing between her feet, and cackles, "You peed yourself!  You peed yourself!"  It's gold, Jerry--gold! 

More laughs come later when the guys all wear funny masks so that Irene can't see their faces, and, sure enough, the masks are actually pretty funny.  Huber, by the way, directed the movie, and he and Stevens collaborated on the screenplay along with the guy who plays a transvestite named "Aunt Bulldog" later on in the story.  Just throwing that out there.

Anyway, as soon as they find out that Irene's dad wants her dead, the guys do a one-eighty and decide to help her, along with a couple of her badass bodyguards, Lek and Hans, who have always considered her a "little sister."  What follows is a series of frenetic, stunt-packed, and often thrilling fight scenes which are strung together by the rest of the dopey plot.  These involve several different combinations of good guys and goons, and take place in a variety of locations including some tall buildings and moving vehicles.  One particularly determined baddie scores laughs by continually hurling himself at our heroes like a crazed Energizer bunny.

While the editing is often on the irritating side, the action itself is dazzling, particularly with O'Neill (who was also the stunt coordinator and fight choreographer) going at it with an arsenal of spin kicks, pinwheel flips, reckless stunts, a little breakdancing, and some nice parkour-type moves.  (When he gracefully lifts himself over an iron fence with a stunning gymnastics move, I was thinking, "No way!")  Conan, meanwhile, bashes his way through bunches of bad guys like a piledriver, while cowardly John entertains us with a series of "funny" confrontations which, oddly enough, aren't funny!

Even Irene gets in her kicks, running around in a towel and catching her pursuers off-guard by flashing her nude body at them, until one of them turns out to be gay.  Then she's handed back over to Dad, setting the scene for a final showdown that pays off pretty well in thrills.  Huber actually does a decent directing job aside from the choppy editing, and most of the cast are capable, particularly Harrison's teeth-gnashing performance as Dawson and Dom Hetrakul as Irene's concerned bodyguard, Lek.  I also like Michael Ocholi as Jacque, a French mercenary friend of John's who keeps getting killed and coming back. 

The DVD from Image Entertainment is in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.  Soundtrack is in English with English and Spanish subtitles.  The sole extra consists of 56 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage which demonstrate how boring a movie shoot can be. 

I really hated this movie the first time I watched it, but upon second viewing I began to warm up to it thanks to the non-stop action and overall jackass attitude.  This, in addition to a few moments here and there which are actually kind of funny, make BANGKOK ADRENALINE worth a look.  That is, if you don't mind risking brain damage from being exposed to its more stupefying qualities.

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