DVD reviews

Bangkok Dangerous and Mr Untouchable get their official DVD release.

Bangkok Dangerous

3/7
Danny Pang, Oxide Pang

Bangkok Dangerous arrives on these shores trailed by terrible Stateside reviews, one of the worst marketing campaigns in recent memory and the kind of advance word-of-mouth usually reserved for Thai prison parolees. A remake of an Asian actioner, the film follows Nicolas Cage’s taciturn hitman as he struggles to get out of the assassination game.

The surprise is that it’s really not that bad: it’s punchy and efficiently directed, and in those brief moments where Cage drops the grimace and stops shooting people he reminds us what a likeable actor he was before action heroism beckoned. None of this compensates for the overfamiliar plotline, the underdeveloped side characters, the breakbeat soundtrack, the boring shootouts and a general air of overbaked silliness. But it helps.
Tom Huddleston

Dhs85 from Virgin Megastore

Mr. Untouchable

3/7
Marc Levin

The first show in a flexing of celluloid muscles with American Gangster, which will be powering onto screens next month, Marc Levin’s repetitious but revealing profile of one-time Harlem drug kingpin Leroy ‘Nicky’ Barnes (adversary to real-life Gangster protag Frank Lucas) trades in tired blaxploitation tropes, thug-life fetishism and – in a feat of cake having and eating – vicarious moralising.

An ex-junkie who became a natty-but-nasty crime boss, Barnes made millions in Gotham’s early ’70s heroin trade, becoming a role model in the neighbourhood even as his product sapped its vitality. Levin (Slam) gets lively interviews from Barnes’s former business partners and various pertinent lawmen, but spreads the limited stills and footage from the gang’s heyday pretty thin (the Curtis Mayfield-heavy score alleviates the tedium somewhat).

The real coup here is the participation of Barnes himself. Under witness protection for decades after ratting out his comrades over a perceived betrayal, he reveals his essential sociopathy while bellowing on – with his face obscured and his voice altered – about Machiavelli, effective heroin-cutting, Moby Dick and why Frank Lucas is a punk (reportedly his motive for talking here). It becomes clear why Barnes’s one-time pursuers and ex-associates revile the guy; Levin’s reason for trotting him out to simultaneously lionise and flay him is harder to grasp.
Mark Holcomb
Dhs85 from Virgin Megastore

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