Image Entertainment // 2010 // 87 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 8th, 2010
A group of free-running morons + a diabolical Thai gangster = this movie.
This isn't a sequel to Bangkok Dangerous. Instead it's an All-New Action-Packed Adventure (i.e., lethally dumb but with cool stunts).
A group of friends decide to go backpacking in Thailand and thanks to some ill-advised gambling, find themselves deep into debt to a local crime boss. If they don't pay up, at the very least, they'll have their fingers broken. Desperate to make enough money to settle their balance, each friend takes on work, but because they're such gigantic morons, nothing comes of it.
So they take the next logical step: formulate a convoluted kidnapping and ransom plot. Their target is the daughter of a billionaire and surprisingly they manage to pull it off. The catch? Apparently dad wants his daughter dead for some reason, so that means a whole lot of thug-fighting awaits!
Whenever these Thai action movies land in my mailbox, I take notice. Not because there's any guarantee I will be treated to a flawless cinema experience; the last several I've tackled have been unimpressive performers. But at the very least, I know I'll be in store for a unique experience.
And that's what Bangkok Adrenaline is: unique. I can't recall the last film I saw, action-oriented or otherwise, that features such blithering idiots as protagonists. These guys almost certainly have Cream of Wheat for brains. Start with the reason they get into so much trouble: generating a debt to a terrifying gangster. I'm not sure they were stoned out of their heads, but that's the only explanation of why'd they'd F up so badly. But once they hatch their brilliant plan to kidnap a girl for ransom, I stopped pulling for these douches and actively sought their maiming.
There are four main characters: the one young guy who's the main action hero (Daniel O'Neill); the giant, ripped dude who's a lot lamer in combat than he should be; another action guy who plays second banana but has some solid moves; and the "comic relief," an irritating a-hole who wears a Che Guevera shirt and did not get punched in the throat nearly enough.
So I detached myself from the storyline early on, even when the little plot twist of the girl's father wanting her dead popped up, holding out the hope that the mayhem sequences would be enough to salvage the operation. The good news: it does.
Bangkok Adrenaline is still a below average film, but if you're angling for a string of cool, creative and well-staged stunt scenes, you should leave satisfied. The focus of the choreography is O'Neill, a guy I had never heard of who also happens to look like he's 15 years old. But he's got moves. In fact, I reckon he'll drop your jaw with some of the stuff he can pull off. Not only is his hand-to-hand stuff noteworthy, but the guy's obviously an accomplished free-runner. All in all, there are three or four big action scenes and everything O'Neill is a part of (which is virtually everything) is worth watching.
The Blu-ray: an okay performing 1.78:1 HD widescreen transfer that pushes the action and renders solid visuals, but lacks the high-end clarity common in the big releases (the resolution does keep up nicely with the action bits, which, thankfully, aren't shot by someone with the jitters); the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 blasts nicely during the frantic times, though the soundtrack is lamentable; only a behind-the-scenes featurette, which is less a featurette and more a load of static camera footage.
Athletic dudes flying around and ripping off some sweet flying kicks -- that's the draw here. Everything else is filler.
Judging it by the action, Not Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R