Bangkok Assassins had the potential to be a decent Thai martial arts actioner but instead squanders it on dull teen angst, unnecessary brutality and a pace that drags (and drags) when it should be igniting. The set up is certainly a little novel with four boys kidnapped from their families and brutalized by a violent gang: one is made blind, one is made mute, one is made deaf and the other is rendered mentally disabled. However, rescue arrives in the form of a kindly old man who uses his martial arts and levitation skills to thwart the gang and take the children to safety. Along with a girl, presumably rescued from a previous encounter, the boys are then trained in the art of martial and grow up under the tutelage of the kindly old man. Flash forward many years later, the kids are grown up (sort of) and have gone their separate ways but are inevitably drawn back together when unrequited love beckons and the murder of their master needs avenging.
Things were looking promising what with a neat set up for revenge, a rather dark and disturbing tone set in the opening scenes where we witness the children receiving their horrific injuries (which perhaps goes on for a bit too long and is a lot harsher than one may be expecting) and the various marketing blurbs promising some wicked martial arts action from the stunt team (ok, one of the stunt team) from Ong Bak and Tomb Raider 2. Alas, this was not to be as what we get instead is a drawn out story of a group of sulky teenagers trying to find one another again, lots of walking about with not much happening, the odd bit of randomness (those masked ninja types flipping and somersaulting here, there and everywhere!), some not so successful comedy (the girl attempting to be a hip-hop star!!??) and, unfortunately, some subpar fights scenes. The fight sequences mainly involve digital effects heightening the whole levitation/magical aspects and what choreography there is, is often truncated due to over-editing the scenes and them being over before they start. There is one cool scene where one of the teenagers takes on an assassin in a temple, the two trading throwing knifes in a fluidly shot fight: there should have been more of this.
It also doesn’t help that the pace lacks momentum with the teenagers strolling about like they have all the time in the world, despite the fact their master has been killed and their lives are now in danger and whenever they get together conversations seem to take a painful amount of time to happen. Despite the title and artwork suggesting otherwise, Bangkok Assassins is not really an action film but rather a teen angst drama with a bit of fighting thrown in. Nothing wrong with that and the film certainly has good intentions but unfortunately Bangkok Assassins just isn’t engaging or exciting enough to fully entertain. Shame.
Review by Andrew Skeates
The DVD has the film presented in widescreen, and it certainly looks good, and there is a trailer section showcasing much better martial films such as The Kick and The Sword Identity.