By: Anthony Francis

Mark Dacascos is an actor that should have been a big-time Hollywood action star long ago. While he has certainly been in some well-received films (Only the Strong, The Brotherhood of the Wolf, and last year’s John Wick 3: Parabellum), he was never welcomed into the big-budget blockbuster club, yet Dacascos made a solid career out of low budget action flicks, becoming a cult superstar.

The actor’s latest film is One Night in Bangkok, a sometimes well-done film that wears the influence of director Michael Mann’s Collateral on its sleeve a bit too often while simultaneously trying it’s damnedest to be more than a mere imitation.

Director Wych Kaosayananda (who failed miserably with the woefully dull and lunkheaded Ballistic: Ecks Vs.Server from 2002) certainly makes a visually atmospheric action thriller that, while far from original and occasionally plodding, keeps the audience interested enough through its stylish presentation and some good action moments.

Dacascos is Kai Kahale, a man who arrives in Bangkok with only his phone and a serious agenda.

He is met at the airport by a man who gives him a bag that includes guns and money. Kahale is one lawyer away from being a character in a Warren Zevon song. 

After calling a ride-sharing service, we are introduced to his driver, Fha (a rather solid Vanida Golten). Driver and passenger develop a cautious connection that a tighter script would havemade more interesting. The director mistakenly tries to create a palpable tension out of Ambient silences but comes up short, making many scenes inside the car feel labored.

Kahale offers Fha six grand to be his personal driver for the entire night, as he has five extremely important stops to make. It is no spoiler to say that Kai is on an extreme mission of revenge. Once Fha realizes what kind of man she is driving around, it is far too late to get out of it. 

The slow build does give us a chance to get into the feel of Kai’s presence. Dacascos plays it rather stoically and he does his best to exude an aura of danger. While I would never argue that the actor was the next Brando, Dacascos does well as the stoic antihero. If given the chance, he could be this generation’s Steve McQueen infused by the ghost of Woo-Ping Yuen’s stunt team.

There isn’t a lot of action in Kaosayananda’s film for quite a while. It is pretty matter of fact the way the director chooses to show Kai take care of his first few victims which allows for next to no suspense. He arrives at the destination; he does the job and gets back in the car. Not a lot to work with there.

As Kai slices through the Bankok night completing his bloody mission, Kane Kosugi (son of the great Sho Kosugi) is the detective who is following the trail of bodies, always moving one step closer to the truth.

The action sequences do come in the second half of the film and they are very well done. Charlie Ruedpokanaon’s fight choreography compliments Dacascos’ Martial Arts skills. The two create some exciting fight scenes that are never allowed to go too over-the-top but are exciting to watch. Mark Dacascos is one of a handful of action film performers who can walk it like they talk it and he is front and center of each of this film’s action set pieces.

Kaosayananda does his own cinematography and he shoots the world of Bangkok at night with flair but makes the mistake of thinking he can achieve the same effect that Mann so successfully did with Collateral. Mann uses light and ambiance in his films to color his character’s personalities. What Kaosayananda does is paint pretty pictures but fails to achieve any emotional effect through his camerawork. 

Wych Kaosayananda’s film is certainly character-driven but there isn’t enough meat to the characters, beyond their surface personalities, to sustain a film. The screenplay needed more. Much more. 

However, I did enjoy seeing Dacascos get a good lead role and he gets a chance to show his fighting skills in a few well-choreographed moments, proving he has not let his age slow him down. 

One Night in Bangkok is a watchable action thriller that works just enough to squeak by with a positive review. Let us hope with his popular role in John Wick 3 and this film that Mark Dacascos can be rediscovered by modern Hollywood. He deserves the big bucks and the bigger films.

About The Author: A long-time film connoisseur and son to a father who ran a movie theater, Anthony Francis rightfully grew up to be a journalist, filmmaker, writer, and film reviewer. His latest reviews/interviews/articles can be found at screencomment.com

1 Comment »

  1. This is an excellent review! You folks are very lucky to have a talented man such as Anthony Francis! I rely on his reviews at Screen Comment, to know if something’s worth my time! Congratulations Anthony! And Congratulations Action-Fix, you’ve found a winner in Anthony Francis!

    Like

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