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Nicholas Cage is lost in the far east

Nicolas Cage opens “Bangkok Dangerous” with a deep, authoritative narrative outlining the do’s and don’ts of the murder for hire biz — then in the next 90 or so shallow minutes that follow, blindly proceeds to break all of those commandments.

Maybe “Joe” has just been in this racket too long, maybe he’s just starting out and doesn’t know any better, or maybe his decision to get a girlfriend and a sidekick are really only sad little “plot” devices.

The quotes used here are employed because the “plot” of “Bangkok Dangerous” is so thin you could blast through it with a pea shooter.

Cage is a relentless assassin with a small heroin problem who somehow figures he’s got enough spare time to befriend one of his hired hands and court a pretty druggist from town.

Naturally, everything soon goes haywire and everyone close to “Joe” starts to suffer.

This variation on the old assassin-as-human-being theme was tired when they first made “Bangkok Dangerous” 10 years ago. Today, it is so worn out that Cage’s offbeat charisma only manages to barely animate this rote thriller.

There are no surprises, no twists and no reason to actually bear with “Bangkok Dangerous” to the bitter end — save for the fact that you might be being paid to do it.

Occasionally, Cage who— somehow stalks around the city looking vaguely like Kiss’ Gene Simmons without drawing much attention to himself — is called upon to jump over a few rooftops and peel away on his motorcycle now and then, but the action here is just as tepid as the plot.

Those who have never seen the far superior “Professional” might be willing to go along for the ride, but for everyone else this assassin’s tale is more asinine then compelling.

In fact, after giving it his all, Cage seems all too happy to take the same path as poor old “Joe.”

Come on back to the states, Nick. Your “Ghost Rider” skull cycle is probably still waiting for you if you want it.

Directed by Oxide Pang Chung and Danny Pang. Starring Nicolas Cage, Shahkrit Yamnarm and Charlie Yeung. Runtime 1 hour, 48 minutes. Strong language and violence.

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