Screened as part of NZIFF 2001
Displaying a vibrant sensitivity to the local rhythms of Bangkok’s underground of gangsters, go-go dancers and political assassinations, the co-directing début of twin brothers Oxide and Danny Pang combines graphic novel vigour with the cool neon aesthetics and agile camerawork of Hong Kong maestro Wong Kar-Wai. Although factually based on real-life Bangkok assassins, there is nothing remotely naturalistic about the Pang brothers’ direction, which incorporates a dazzling variety of film stocks, camera speeds, gonzo camera angles and rapid-fire editing set to a pulsating percussive beat.
Kong, deaf and mute since childhood, is introduced into the Bangkok underworld by hot-tempered hitman Joe and Aom, his go-go girlfriend. Kong’s detachment makes him the perfect, emotionless killer for hire. Between mob hits, Kong tentatively dates Fon, an absurdly sweet girl who works at his local chemist shop and abhors violence. When Aom and Joe fall prey to a sleazy ganglord, Kong is torn between sweet redemption and bitter revenge. — MM
Just when you thought you could safely put hitman movies behind you, along comes a left-field film that completely refreshes the genre. The Pang Brothers are both Chinese back-room boys in the film industry, Oxide working in Bangkok and Danny in Hong Kong. Oxide has directed once before but this is their first collaboration – and they’re not far behind the Wachowski Brothers when it comes to their way with CGI…
His [Kong’s] fate, of course, is preordained, but the directors steer him towards it through largely wordless sequences of quite dazzling visual invention. Two standout sequences seem assured of a place in genre history: one on a Hong Kong subway train, the other in a Japanese restaurant in Bangkok where he’s accompanied by the ghost of his late best friend. Entire reels go by without dialogue, and the hitman is happiest when he takes his girlfriend to see a silent comedy. Really impressive. — Tony Rayns, Vancouver Film Festival 2000
Beautifully crafted, with a deft eye on the sights and sounds of Bangkok, the film shows a love and appreciation of the poetics of cinema, and of violence. — FIPRESCI Jury, Toronto Film Festival 2000