REVIEW: BANGKOK ASSASSINS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: YUTHLERT SIPPAPAK / SCREENPLAY: YUTHLERT SIPPAPAK / STARRING: ABID, KEFI ADWEN, ARAK AMORNSUPASIRI, PAIBOON ANANSUWAN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Four kids are abducted by a gang of vicious thugs, who disfigure them and send them out onto the streets to busk for pennies from sympathetic passers-by. In scenes that are actually quite difficult to watch, one is blinded, another deafened, one has his tongue removed and another given permanent brain damage. However, just as we start to think we're in for a dour and harrowing account of life in the city's sordid underbelly, help is at hand in the form of an old Shaolin master, who in a spectacular display of supernatural martial arts ability spirits them away to his monastery and trains them up.
The teenage super-team that emerges many years later of course seek belated revenge on their lowlife persecutors, but in the process run afoul of an evil and immensely powerful crime lord and his minions, who eventually murder the old master. Even with their amazing abilities, could they now be in over their heads?
Not a bad old concept on paper, and fairly slickly produced at that, but sadly Bangkok Assassins ultimately fails to come up with the ass kickin' goods. All manner of sins would have been happily overlooked, just as long as we got 100-odd minutes of bone-crunching martial arts action and cathartic revenge kicks. But for a film also known as Bangkok Kung Fu there's just not enough of it on offer, with the young heroes' supernatural powers allowing them to send their assailants flying without even touching them. While this would admittedly be pretty damn cool in real life, what we're left with is a bad superhero movie. It doesn't help that our teenage leads, while an attractive bunch, look too gangly and awkward to fight their way out of a paper bag, and never really bust any moves dope enough to convince us otherwise.
Add to this deficit of proper martial arts mayhem liberal doses of mawkish, clumsily handled teenage romance and what remains is a muddled narrative that never manages to work up a satisfyingly violent head of steam, leaving little for even the most ardent and forgiving devotee of Asian genre fare to enjoy.