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The Action Thriller Flop Getting A Second Chance On HBO Max

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Sometimes you just want to watch a direct-to-VOD action thriller. Really, for a lot of people, it's more than "sometimes," because the market for this type of movie is absolutely thriving. Nicolas Cage was in five of them in 2019 alone. If you enjoy this type of movie, you should check out One Night in Bangkok, a slick flick from last year that's a cut above the usual low-budget action fare, even though it's essentially an unofficial remake (a charitable euphemism for "ripoff") of Michael Mann's 2004 crime classic Collateral starring Tom Cruise, which has basically the same plot.

The film follows Kai (Mark Dacascos), a fastidious man (he brushes his teeth twice in the first 15 minutes) who arrives in the titular Thai city on an apparent business trip. He hires a cab driver named Fha (Vanida Golten), who drives at night to earn money to help support her brother, who has MS. She takes a liking to the handsome, mysterious American in her backseat and accepts his offer of $6,000 to drive him for the whole night. She realizes, however, that he's a hitman, and she's driving him from murder to murder. But it's too late to extract herself from the deal, especially after she finds out their unexpected personal connection. Meanwhile, a detective with bleached-blond hair named Korn (Prinya Intachai) pursues them, trying to stop Kai from adding more bodies to the pile.

One Night in Bangkok skipped theaters, went straight to VOD, and is now enjoying a new life on HBO Max.

It's two parts Collateral, one part John Wick

The film is written, directed, produced, and cinematographed by Wych Kaosayananda, aka Kaos, the trash auteur best known for 2002's Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, a movie that famously has a 0 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes and is considered one of the worst movies ever made. One Night in Bangkok fared slightly better with critics, with a 33 percent "Rotten" rating on the review aggregator. "Unusually for an action movie, there's next to no real action for an hour: the plot sets Kai in front of his targets, and — pop — off we drive to the next location," The Guardian's Mike McCahill wrote in his two-star review of the film. "We're left with all the lowish-octane thrills that follow from watching a man ticking items off his to-do list, and Kaosayananda makes such a deathly plod of it that vast stretches appear to be proceeding in real time."

One Night in Bangkok is heavily indebted to the aforementioned Collateral, in which a cab driver played by Jamie Foxx drives a hit man played by Tom Cruise around Los Angeles for a night, and also to the John Wick movies. Mark Dacascos had a memorable supporting role in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum as the final boss John Wick fights, and here he does a serene sort of Keanu Reeves impression as a man whose mild demeanor masks the ability to inflict big-time damage.

It's not what you'd call a good movie, but it's a passably entertaining one, and it's nice to see martial artist, supporting action actor extraordinaire, and former Iron Chef America host Dacascos get a starring role. Check it out if you have an hour and 45 minutes to kill.