Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
A Stranger in Paradise: Under-Employing Gary Daniels
is quite a cosmopolitan city. It is also mired in corruption. An American money
manager will team up with his expat brother, a British bodyguard, and a Colombian
troubleshooter with a social conscience, hoping to untangle their issues with
the Thai mafia. At least he will have the chance to enjoy some of the nightlife
in Corrado Boccia’s A Stranger in
opens in select theaters this Friday.
is basically an idiotic, but his winning smile and hearty handshake earned him
an early partnership in his hedge fund. Unfortunately, his boss is deeply
mobbed up with the Thai syndicate. Ostensibly to celebrate his promotion, Josh
is trundled off to Thailand to visit his brother Paul, a night club proprietor,
who happens to be an old college pal of his corrupt mentor.
soon as he lands, Josh meets Jules, one Paul’s ambiguous retainers. She is
hardly impressed by the younger brother, for good reason. Shortly thereafter,
word comes the Feds have pinched Josh’s senior partner. Before long, the Thai
mob and their bought-and-paid-for lackeys in the police force start popping
round, asking not so nicely for their account numbers. Of course, Josh does not
know Jack Straw.
Stranger’s greatest asset is the
action cred of former UK kick-boxing champ turned actor Gary Daniels as Paul
bodyguard Derek. Yet, the film only capitalizes on his skills in two frustratingly
short scenes that are practically over before they start. Probably best known
to fanboys for Fist of the North Star
and most recognizable to general audiences as Eric Roberts’ British henchman in
the original Expendables, Daniels has
real presence, in marked contrast to the boring fratboy Colin Egglesfield. As
the Yankee action lead and clichéd fish-out-of-water in an exotic locale, he
will make viewers nostalgic for Kellan Lutz’s meathead turn in Java Heat.
Stranger assembles a pretty good
supporting cast, by B-movie standards. Catalina Sandino Moreno (from Maria Full of Grace and Fast Food Nation) shows some presentable
action cops of her own as Jules. Stuart Townsend (Lestat in the franchise
killing Queen of the Damned) also has
his moments as Paul. The villains are not a memorable lot, but Byron Mann still
chews on a fair bit of scenery as the villainous mob enforcer, Lek.
Egglesfield’s Josh fatally undermines any good will his colleagues might create
with his constant whining: “Why are you driving so fast?” “Why are people following
us?” “Why am I such a tool?” Whenever he
is talking, it is bad for the film.
needed far less talking and way more action. It
also would have been nice if there had been a sympathetic Thai character of
some narrative significance. Still, despite all the murder and graft, the film
makes Bangkok look like a fun place to visit, so at least that’s something.
Disappointing (especially for Daniels fans), A Stranger in Paradise will leave little impression when it
releases on VOD and in select theaters this Friday (2/14).
Labels: Gary Daniels