Threat advisory: Elevated - Significant risk of entertaining activities
For just a little while, it was all so perfect.
It promises to be a liberating adventure for Alice (Claire Danes), a wild, living-on-the-edge teenager. To celebrate her high school graduation, she and her best friend Darlene (Kate Beckinsale) have decided to treat themselves to a trip to exotic Bangkok ("Las Vegas without parents and laws," Alice enthuses to the more cautious Darlene).
Under the magical and golden Thailand sun, Alice and Darlene have the time of their lives. But things begin to change after they meet a seductive and handsome Australian, Nick Parks (Daniel Lapaine). Both girls are smitten with Nick, who eventually asks Darlene to spend the night with him, much to the surprise of the more outgoing Alice, who must fight growing feelings of resentment and anger about her friend's romantic conquest.
When Nick proposes a quick side trip to Hong Kong, Darlene convinces Alice to come along. Nick's real plans, however, are anything but romantic: he's using Alice and Darlene in an insidious heroin smuggling scheme. At the Bangkok airport, the two girls are shocked when heroin is found in their luggage. As they are surrounded by Thai police and DEA officers, Alice and Darlene are caught up in a maelstrom of hysteria, panic and confusion, each suspecting the other of a dark betrayal.
Their mutual suspicion intensifies during their first year of a 33-year sentence in a hideous Thai prison ruefully described by its inmates as the Brokedown palace. As their despair grows, they are given one last bit of hope: Yankee Hank (Bill Pullman), an expatriate American lawyer. But Alice, who has always been the more reckless and irresponsible of the two, eventually realises that their salvation can only come from sacrifice... and she realises how far she'll go to save her friend.
Theatrical propaganda posters
Target demographic movie keyword propaganda
- Film crime Thailand drug mule prison
Persons of interest
- Claire Danes .... Alice Marano
- Kate Beckinsale .... Darlene Davis
- Bill Pullman .... "Yankee" Hank Green
- Jacqueline Kim .... Yon Greene
- Lou Diamond Phillips .... Roy Knox
- Daniel Lapaine .... Nick Parks
- Tom Amandes .... Doug Davis
- Aimee Graham .... Beth Ann Gardener
- John Doe .... Bill Marano
- Kay Tong Lim .... Chief Detective Jagkrit
- Adam Fields .... Storywriter
- David Arata .... Storywriter
- David Arata .... Screenwriter
- Jonathan Kaplan .... Director
Cinematic intelligence sources
- Studios and distributors:
Special Agent Matti
Not that I have ever seen Bangkok Hilton but if I had, it would've been like this. With real accents, of course.
Brokedown palace is your average American morality tale about being nice and not telling lies, especially to your nice parents. Sure, it's easy to be led astray by the mystery and razzmatazz of being naughty but the cost is never worth the price. Darlene's apple pie cherry compôte (too much fruit?) is so bland it's almost unbelievable, but wander into any high school Christian club and there she is, lacy frills and all. Alice's working class wild girl is so wrong-side-of-the-tracks that it's hard to see how they could be going to the same school let alone spend their lives as best friends. I can not for the life of me figure out how they met to be so inseparable, let alone say they're going to Hawaii and end up in Thailand. They don't even speak English there, for heaven's sake.
Claire and Kate do their characters well, it's the characters that are unbelievable.
Bill as Yankee Hank (Hello? Yankee Hank? What time warp were David Arata and Adam Fields in?) is his bland old self, no more noteworthy in this movie of the week than he was as Bill Clinton in Independence day. To think, if it wasn't for that piece of trash no-one would even know who he is. Now he's everywhere.
Brokedown palace lacks any sense of grit or dirt. All the characters behave the way the script wants them to, not the way they need to. There is a sense that it was written according to the patented Hollywood Asian Drug Movie formula and sold to investors on that basis. While it winds up as a watchable film, it will never be hailed as a must-see (unless you're one of those so-called critics who write with an open thesaurus and a handy list of superlatives). Wait for a cold and miserable winter's night so you can appreciate the muggy heat of the tropics.
Media intelligence (DVD)
- Cast and crew biographies
- Trailers: Theatrical
- Languages: English
Security censorship classification
M (Adult themes, low level coarse language)
96 minutes (1:36 hours)
Not for public release in Australia before date
DVD retail: 22 January 2003