by Jef Burnham
Now available on Blu-ray and DVD from Image Entertainment.
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The first thing one would identify writer/director/co-star Raimund Huber’s Bangkok Adrenaline as is a kung fu movie. And as a kung-fu movie, Bangkok Adrenaline delivers some terrific martial arts sequences. Respectably, all the actors, including Daniel O’Neill (The Protector, The Medallion), perform their own stunts, and they execute the fight sequences brilliantly. All the while, the camera remains an appropriate distance away from the action that we might take it all in, unlike so many bigger budget pictures which put us so close to the action that it’s indiscernible.
The rest of the movie, on the other hand, is pretty tough to get through. The plot follows five friends who lose a large sum of money (which they can’t pay) to a local mob boss while out on the town in Bangkok. They are given a week to get the money and decide to kidnap another mob boss’s daughter in order to ransom her for the money they need, but it turns out that the girl’s father wanted her dead in the first place, so he kidnaps her back and they have to save her, but… it really doesn’t matter. The narrative meanders badly and is generally uninteresting. As such, we don’t feel the pressure of the setup once they set out to find the money, nor do we ever feel concerned for their safety once they become involved in the greater scheme.
The piece is further bogged down by the almost consistently unfunny attempts at comedy and numerous out-of-place stylistic trappings, such as the wacky freeze frame introducing us to the characters long after we’ve already met them. The film would like very much to be viewed as the descendant of Guy Ritchie’s features, the Crank movies, and Ong Bak. And even though the fight scenes are extremely entertaining and effective, Bangkok Adrenaline just doesn’t work as a whole. Fortunately, the majority of the film’s 87-minute running time is devoted to the action.
Included on both HD and SD releases is a behind-the-scenes featurette, which takes the whole “behind-the-scenes” thing a little far, merely showing the cast and crew at work on set without anyone ever addressing the behind-the-scenes camera.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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