Review: 'One Night In Bangkok' (2020) Dir. Wych Kaosayananda
Martial artist of the small and big screen, Mark Dacascos returns to VOD, fresh from his mainstream turn in 'John Wick: Chapter 3' ...
Hitman Kai Kahale (Dacascos) arrives in Bangkok at the start of what will be a long evening. He arms himself with a gun and calls a cab, and sets off into the night.
Cab driver Fha (Golten) is out to do an honest job and earn honest money to survive, and she is the driver for Kahale as he befriends her early on and offers her a huge payout to drive him.
But Kahale has four stop and four targets to take out during the course of the evening, with Fha mixed up as the law hunts Kahale down. What happens during the night will change all those involved forever...
An un-official remake of Michael Mann's 2004 neo-noir action thriller sees the dangerous, unpredictable Tom Cruise replaced by philanthropic, mild-mannered Mark Dacascos and the nervous, wired-in Jamie Foxx by calm and collected Vanida Golten. It's pretty much the same premise too.
Dacascos is a hitman making a number of stops over one night in Bangkok to assassinate five targets. Golten is the unlucky / lucky cab driver called in to drive him around as he makes his stops with the promise of cash once the night is done.
However, there is no real underlying unpredictability to Dacascos as we may expect following the Cruise template - as Hawaiian hitman Kai, he radiates calm from his well fitted suit, shiny bald head and grey beard. He's an older man now but radiates charm and sophistication, and when he talks you just either want to fall asleep under his calm tones, and sit and listen and learn with all the wise stories and philosophical words he speaks between hits. There is little in the way of his martial arts, and most of the action is left to pulling the trigger finger to a silenced pistol.
Dacascos is always watchable, even though his hitman doesn't act like the usual hitman as his motivations for his actions become clear.
We take the ride with Golten's sweet Fah, the driver who doesn't waste time in trusting a man who offers her a wad of cash to drive around various stops waiting for Kai to "visit people" at each one. There is a real lack of urgency to proceedings, and the bond between the two is fleshed out on Kai's motivations for doing what he does, and making things a lot more personal than expected. While out for revenge, he is acting as a human with little left in the world, but not a man blinded by rage that he is unpredictably volatile. Dacascos and Golten have good chemistry together, even if their relationship moves far too fast and often in a very simple way for the sake of a simple story clocking in at just over 100mins.
To be honest, much of the pace is gentle and different from what is expected. It plays out like the popular 'Hitman' games, where inconspicuous stealth is used; less noise, more observation and to the point hits. Nothing big, bold, loud and grand. When Dacascos strikes, he strikes hard, fast and quick and then moves on with only one or two bodies left.
To that extent, it's rather entertaining with the pressure Kai puts on himself as Kane Kosugi's casual cop is slowly closing in. Just don't expect there to be bullets and bodies flying around - there is far more talk, reflection and emotion than shooting, the first hour of the film seems to take place in and around the taxi. The city of Bangkok all work just right for the nighttime setting; bustling clubs, atmospheric restaurants, empty, neon lit urban streets with sirens always to be heard. Justin Katz provides a synthetic score that accompanies the on-screen drama well, and it's writer/director Kaosayananda who frames the film using some slick split-screen effects to add in some variety with no shaky cam in sight.
It's the last half-hour where the story escalates a little and some urgency is finally added into the mix and things don't continue as planned. But, again, it gets bogged down by the overly sentimental aspect of the characters that takes over the plot - more drama that action.
Satisfying for die-hard Dacascos fans, and worth watching if you want something different to the expected hitman story. Restrained in action and acting, but at least it tries hard to be different from the rest.
'One Night In Bangkok' is a Grindstone Entertainment Group production