I love a bit of martial arts madness and always have but for me it’s all about real stunts. People like Bruce Lee back in the day, the underrated skills of Jackie Chan, the legend that is Tony Jaa and The Raid’s Iko Uwais make movies that look amazing but more importantly look real, up to a point that is.
To be brutally honest this is why I have never liked Jet Li because of all his bouncy string Hong Kong epics, although he has redeemed himself in fun films like Fearless, The One and The Expendables.
The bottom line is personally I believe a true martial arts movie is about real looking fights and fantastic feats of human athleticism and not magical mumbo jumbo, people on wires and badly done special effects.
Sadly that brings us to the mess of a movie that is Bangkok Assassins a film that wildly veers from the terrible torture of kidnapped children to coiffed haired teen heart throbs with supernatural powers to the quest for dragon tears by an old terrible chubby Steven Segal look-alike who has monkey masked assassins none of which works or inspires the sort of visceral excitement you can only get with a great action movie.
The story opens by following a group of abducted kids from Bangkok who are forced by a criminal gang to beg on the streets. When they disobey, their evil abusers beat the foursome without mercy, horrifically disabling them both to teach them a lesson and make more money from them.
However, and here’s where it starts to get stupid, a wise old shaolin master saves the kids taking them to his hideout to teach them secret super powers which turn their disabilities into kick ass martial arts moves transforming the boys one deaf, one blind and one dumb into hunky vengeance filled teen terrors who strike out in search of the men that did them wrong.
Although the story is no stranger than other martial arts movies, especially the ones from the 70’s, so many of the scenes in Bangkok Assassins seem misjudged with the horrific opening regarding the young boys miserable and painful upbringing in no way preparing the audience for the almost throwaway storyline of the hapless and annoying female characters struggle to make it as a singer.
This then segues into the preposterous over blown mysticism of the Shaolin story line which borders on parody and then back to follow one character who thinks he may be committing incest then over to the resurrection of their mentally disabled friend all while the boys violently murder the men who destroyed their childhoods.
Thai writer and director Yuthlert Sippapak seems to be making about 7 movies at once in Bangkok Assassins jumping about with no rhyme or reason leaving an unintelligible muddle that is neither well realised, well directed, entertaining or engaging.
In regards to the martial arts in Bangkok Assassins the special effects, of which there are many, look bad and cheap as does the whole movie and no one seems to have enough skill to pull any of the moves off making every fight scene look like a bad computer game but much less fun as you’re not in control except in that you can eject the DVD and throw it in the bin a move that is more skilled than anything these actors could accomplish.
Many martial arts films are stupid and these are often the most enjoyable but Bangkok Assassins is just plain dumb and badly made with very few redeeming features to recommend it. If you like martial arts avoid this film, you’re much better off seeking out some classic Shaw Brothers take my word for it.