Nothing to Lose (1+1=0)
Director: Danny Pang
Starring: Pierre Png, Arissara Wongchalee
(Fresh), Yvonne Lim.
Time: 94 minutes
Though only one of the Pang brothers is involved
with this film, it still displays their characteristic flair for kinetic
style, off kilter colors and a fast moving narrative. The films that the
Pang brothers have directed clearly show their Hong Kong background and
Hong Kong film influences. Bangkok Dangerous felt very much like a Hong
Kong hitman film transferred to Bangkok, The Eye of course takes place
in both countries and this film too feels much more Hong Kongish in its
attitudes than the Thai films I have seen. Though never particularly gripping
and with an ending that felt rushed and anti-climatic, this film still
treads some enjoyable Bangkok turf and brings forth a few interesting characters.
In some ways it is like sniffing Sassy Girl on gasoline fumes where the
Breathless couple turns to crime and murder rather than pranks and whimsy.
Love can start anywhere. Even on a rooftop with
the pavement staring you in the face down below. Somchai is up on the roof
looking for a final escape from his gambling debts and he spots Go-go teetering
on the edge with a similar solution for her problems written on her face.
Both decide to eat first and die later and then decide not to pay – why
pay when we are as good as dead is their reasoning. After bashing up a
car for the joy of it, she takes him to a run down hotel and introduces
him to the pleasures of weed and abstinence. Watching Go-go running around
in her halter-top, boots and tight shorts makes the abstinence part difficult
as hell for Somchai. Soon the cops are after them for a convenience store
robbery and then the gamblers are after them both for some unpaid debts.
A bloodbath later and they are on the run for their lives.
The film has energy, style, two good performances,
some well-shot scenes, but it doesn’t really seem to add up to as much
as one would hope. Beneath the visual sheen there isn’t a lot of depth
or emotional connection. Where it really seems to fail though is in follow
through – after the shoot out one expects the film to simply go into hyper
drive but instead it slowly lets the air out and goes out with a whimper
instead of a bang. Besides some of the intriguing milieus that the characters
traverse – a grungy and dangerous gambling parlor, the seedy hotel – the
most enticing aspect to the film is the yowza in your face attitude shown
by actress Arissara Wongchalee a.k.a. Fresh. With her assortment of wigs,
her long legs and slightly twisted mind, she is hard to take your eyes
The Thai DVD states that it has English sub-titles
but it does not. I was able to see it with subtitles at a showing.
My rating for this film: 6.0
Reviewed by Simon Booth
The Pang Brothers have shot to fame over the
past few years with their energetic film-making that seems to revitalise
genres that have been flagging in recent years. In particular, Bangkok
Dangerous and The Eye have been huge hits. Their background as editors
on some of Hong Kong's top action titles clearly shows in their visually
kinetic film making style. NOTHING TO LOSE is the solo directorial debut
of the less interestingly named half of the twins, Danny Pang.
Somchai meets Go Go on a Bangkok rooftop, where
both are planning to make the ultimate jump and escape their problems in
life. Somehow they manage to talk each other out of it and go for food
instead, where they learn that when you've reached the point where death
holds no fear there's nothing left to stop you doing almost anything in
life. This starts them off on an adventure full of mayhem, with nothing
NOTHING TO LOSE has all the visual style of
the Pang Brothers other works, with cinematography that owes a lot to Christopher
Doyle and MTV. Unfortunately it starts with a bit of a whimper, with some
poorly dubbed and terribly cheesy dialogue that makes it look like you're
in for an "all style, no brains" experience. Thankfully, the opening proves
to be rather a red herring in a film that becomes progressively more complex,
unusual and compelling as it goes on. Danny Pang creates a couple of complex
characters, and as both story and backstory are revealed we are drawn into
an increasingly rich situation and connect more with the protagonists.
The film was introduced at the SF International
Film Festival as "a remake of Natural Born Killers", which is one of the
more vacuous observations I've heard about a Thai film (why is it at these
fests the people that introduce the films always try to compare them to
American films anyway?). Certainly there are elements in common, but these
become less and less as the film progresses.
The greatest strength of the film is not Danny
Pang's writing or visual flair though, it's actress Fresh, who is ravishing,
wild and utterly compelling to watch in an all-out performance. Dressed
in a sequence of wigs and bold outfits she would leave a lasting impression
on any male mind, and the rather geeky Somchai is helplessly in her thrall.
Singaporean actor Pierre Png looks good but is rather flat as an actor
(which is perhaps appropriate for the role) and suffers a lot from being
dubbed into Thai. The supporting cast is good, but everybody is outshone
by Fresh (incidentally, this was her first film role).
NOTHING TO LOSE is a film that transcends its
premise and beginnings, and ultimately offers a lot to look at, enjoy and
even think about afterwards. It should be a successful film in the west,
but the lack of a subtitled home video release will doubtless prevent that
for the moment.
Recommended if you get the chance to see it