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The story is of a deaf-mute hitman and his partner who are based in Bangkok. He is friends with his partner's girlfriend who is a stripper at a local club. They go about their assassination business as usual as the boss climbs the underworld ladder and forms new alliances. Flashbacks explain how he got to this point in his life. He forms a relationship with a young woman from the pharmacy who is caring and innocent. The hunts continue as treachery begins. A big name hit makes him realize that good people are hurt by his actions. The first rule of assassination closes in on him as he strikes revenge. Written by
Scott, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Not perfect but engaging and certainly miles better than the 2008 remake
After the mess of the remake I figured I owed it to the Pang brothers to at least see what they had done originally before messing it up or perhaps seeing that they never had anything in the first place and that maybe the remake just reflected that. The first thing that will hit you watching the original after the remake will be the change in the three central characters, as here we have the roles and interaction changed around a bit and working better in this orientation than with Nicholas Cage's version. Now, I am conscious that there is an in-built pressure on me to like this film more than the remake simply because it is the "original" and is a foreign language film, but the fact of the matter is that the 1999 film is superior to the remake.
However, and those having seen the 2008 film will back me up on this, that is not saying a great deal and it does not read then that this film is brilliant. It is not brilliant but it does do what the remake didn't manage to do, which was to have a certain amount of story that I cared about and to wrap it up in a style that covers the weaknesses. This is helped by the character dynamics, which work much better with the three or four characters inhabiting the roles they do (ie the "deaf/mute" thing is much better with the assassin than with the girl). It isn't perfect though but it works and I was reasonably engaged by the characters even if the plot was straightforward enough. Those looking for Woo-style action will be disappointed; there is gun-play of course but it is not really designed to thrill or excite. What the brothers do do well though is visual style, which is mostly quite engaging and energising, even if they overdo the sentimentality really badly at the end.
The cast are better here as well, mainly because they fit their characters and make their interactions work. Mongkolpisit's Kong is an effective presence on the screen, which he needed to be in order for his condition to work. Intrakanchit is good but given a lot less to do than I expected. What really helps the film is that the two female roles are quite good. Ratanasopha's sweetness and natural warmth comes through and thus convinces you of her falling in love with Kong something that the corresponding roles in the remake never did. Timkul's Aom is strong and sexy even if she is more of a plot device than a character in the film.
Overall this is not a brilliant film that deserves to be shouted about but it is still an engaging and effective film thanks to a solid story, good performances and good delivery from the Pang Brothers. It has its faults but the strengths cover these up pretty well to make for a film that only really blows it by how heavy handed it is in the final few minutes. Oh, for those moaning that they accidentally hired this instead of the remake trust me, you've much, much better off.
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