I am one of those women who is all for gay guys. Dudes banging is hot. So when I watch a movie, even if it's not great, I can still enjoy myself as long as there are some scenes of gay men getting it on.
At least, that's how it usually goes. Bangkok Love Story is the sole exception to my gay-guys-doing-it-is-always-fun rule.
It's an hour and thirty minutes long, but my God, it feels much, much longer- not in a good way.
The film opens with a montage of our main man, assassin 'Cloud', doing what he does best: killing people, riding the bus, walking the night-time streets, and stroking his gun suggestively while sweating a lot He receives his next assignment and begins stalking him; the handsome-and-he-knows it Stone usually has his girlfriend hanging off his arm. Cloud shoots at him in the middle of a crowded street, and in the ensuing panic manages to separate Stone from his woman and kidnap him. He takes Stone to a (really large but with ugly carpet) hotel room and proceeds to doze off, dreaming about his tragic past- because of course he has one, all pretty assassins do.
When Cloud takes Stone to the crime boss who hired him, he discovers that Stone isn't a bad guy at all- he's a witness to the boss' evil deeds. He refuses to kill Stone when ordered, and is shot in the arm for his trouble. The two escape on a motorcycle, and Stone interrogates Cloud as to his motives while Cloud is bleeding all over the damn place. He takes Cloud back to Cloud's shitty concrete hovel and digs out the bullet – with scissors, ew- and nurses him like a regular Florence Nighingale. There is romantic piano music while he sponge-bathes the unconscious assassin. There is more romantic piano music while they share take-out.
Meanwhile, Stone's girlfriend Sand is trying to figure out where he went, and the crime boss is also on their respective trails. Some random dude tells Sand that Stone can take care of himself, and he is on the case, which I guess means he is a police officer. Cloud and Stone have deep conversations about killing people and the intrinsic goodness of humanity and all that crap while sitting around shirtless. They also stare at each other while pretending to be asleep, to playfully romantic piano music. There is another montage of Cloud and Stone standing around looking moody and smoking to…romantic piano music. At any rate, it only takes them 37 minutes into the movie to do it, which is a plus. Any more moping and peeking and I might have fast-forwarded to the gay sex, screw the rest of it.
But uh-oh, Cloud doesn't like the fact that he banged a dude. Stone, despite being the one with a girlfriend, accepts it right away. Maybe he's been on the DL for a while. Cloud kicks Stone out, while, you know, secretly dying inside and shit. For some reason Stone walks home in nothing but his undies. Meanwhile Cloud's brother Fog is a street hustler with HIV who does his clients bareback, which is pretty reprehensible, but we're still supposed to feel sorry for his bad luck.
And then there is yet another montage of them looking sad and longing for each other, to romantic violin music this time, for about six or seven minutes. Yawn. Apparently the crime boss' henchmen have made zero progress in their search for Cloud and Stone, despite the fact that Stone is now back at his old address with Sand, because no one interrupts their mutual misery. Eventually Stone goes back, steals Cloud's dolly that he sleeps with, and takes it home to cuddle. At this point Sand realizes that something is kind of weird here. But Cloud keeps avoiding Stone. There is a flashback sequence of everything that has occurred in the film thus far, not that much has really happened. Then Stone tries to shoot himself, except the gun isn't loaded, and Cloud rides the bus some more. Eventually they just happen to run into each other at some random public building, probably a bus station since all Cloud does when he's not killing people is ride the bus, and Stone whines some more about why is Cloud doing this to him and wah wah wah. Some time later Stone finds Cloud's brother getting beat up by street thugs, saves him, and asks Fog to nag Cloud about calling Stone back. It's like fucking high school with this guy.
Finally, after thirty solid minutes of moping and whining and angst, Stone and Cloud get back together and make out in the middle of an alley in the rain while Fog and Cloud's mother watch from a balcony, which is just kind of strange. Sand also gets an eyeful, since she's apparently followed Stone on his night-time hikes to Cloud's place.
But once again he pushes Stone away, because at this point Cloud has, for some unspecified reason, finally decided it's time to go on the lam and take his family with him. While Cloud and Fog are arguing on the roof, their mother hangs herself. Then Sand, who was packing, takes a shot at Stone, who is hanging around in the street like a hungry puppy waiting for Cloud to love him again. It seems they take Cloud's mom to the hospital or the morgue or someplace, and then Stone goes home to his angry, hurt girlfriend. The next morning (despite the fact that their mom committed suicide the night before), Fog and Cloud are preparing to move to the country. But first Cloud has to do one last job (apparently he has never seen any crime movies, because otherwise he would know that you never do the one last job) and kill the crime boss who was after him. Which actually negates the need to move, but whatever. There is shooting action. Stone, alerted to the one last job by Fog, heads out to stop Cloud or help him or something. At this point I didn't care which it was.
Cloud kills about fifty henchmen, but the shooting action is interrupted by shots of Stone driving and Fog moping, accompanied by romantic music. The crime boss amusingly uses his wife a human shield, but Cloud kills him anyway. Stone arrives with a gun, but it's too late, Cloud is on his way back to the train station to meet his brother. Canvassing the building, Stone is shot by the crime boss' wife, whom Cloud left alive. At the train station Cloud is apprehended by police, gets into an impressive Mexican standoff, and, instead of going out the manly way with gun blazing, gives himself up.
But wait! Stone is still alive (albeit blinded) and visits Cloud in jail. All Stone needs to get his vision back is a double cornea transplant. Since it's Thailand, it probably wouldn't be too hard to get a couple on the black market. But he doesn't. I was kind of hoping Cloud might kill himself and donate his eyes to Stone, because then at least one of them would be dead and the movie would be over, but no luck there.
There is even a double epilogue, with Cloud getting out of jail after twenty-odd years and Stone waiting for him. They have a boring conversation about Cloud's plans for the future and Stone invites him to move in. Then, for some reason, Cloud is shot by a sniper. In the rain. With his blind one-night stand from twenty years ago groping on the street for his body. This is the sort of ending I expected (being used to the ridiculously tragic endings of Hong Kong action movies), but it came about twenty minutes too late.
BUT IT'S STILL NOT FUCKING OVER. Next we see Stone hanging out in a shrine somewhere, probably praying for Cloud's soul or something. There are cherry blossom petals. And FINALLY the credits start to roll.
Bangkok Love Story is shot in a very frustrating manner. There are lots of slow-mo sequences, weird blurriness and jump cuts that are probably supposed to be innovative but which haven't been used in most films since about 1989. Since most of the action takes place at night, and since it seems the filmmakers couldn't afford good lighting, it's usually hard to see just what is going on during the shoot-'em-up scenes, and even in some of the dramatic parts. I have a certain fondness for low-budget movies, but couldn't some of the action have taken place in broad daylight, or at least under florescent bulbs?
Our two heroes seem to sweat an awful lot, which I could rationalize as the Thai heat, but no one else seems to be so prone to the humidity. It's kind of gross.
The acting isn't bad, but no one gets much to do. Even the main characters mostly just stand around staring into space. The montages of Cloud and Stone moping, looking unhappy and peeking at each other are far too long, contrived and yawn-inducing. In contrast, the sex scenes are very natural and not overdone. It's a shame there's only one and one make-out scene, as they're easily the best part of the movie. They would have been better if I'd been encouraged to care about these guys, but…I wasn't. So I didn't, not really.
Verdict: It's like Brokeback Mountain, but whinier and more boring. Nice sex scenes aren't enough to make me recommend this to you.