Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Have You Ever Been In A Turkish Prison?

In Brokedown Palace, recent high school graduates Alice (Claire Danes) and Darlene (Kate Beckinsale) meet charming Australian Nick Parks in Thailand and throw caution to the wind when he invites them to Hong Kong for kicks. Their romantic escapade turns urban legend scary when Nick gives them the slip and the girls get busted at the Bangkok airport for heroin smuggling.

Brokedown Palace is one of those cloak-and-dagger films in which an Everyman, or in this case an EveryTeenageGirl, is trapped in a foreign country, implicated in a heinous crime, racing against time to either solve the crime or get the hell out of there. For the most nailbiting, edge-of-your-seat insanity, the cross-cultural-relations-escape-crime thriller is the subgenre.

Midnight Express: The quintessential cross-cultural-relations-escape-crime thriller, Alan Parker’s film from a script by Oliver Stone is loosely based on the real life story of Billy Hayes, an American arrested and jailed in Turkey for hashish smuggling. He is brutalized by guards and prisoners, alike, until he attempts a daring and potentially lethal escape. Midnight Express does for Turkish prisons what Deliverance does for river rafting.

Frantic: Harrison Ford defined his patented Harrison Ford scared look with this missing persons thriller about a San Francisco doctor whose wife picks up the wrong suitcase at the Paris airport and disappears the next day. As he searches for his wife, Dr. Richard Walker is plunged into a world of intrigue and international espionage and the beautiful Emmanuelle Seigner.

The Man Who Knew Too Much: Before Harrison Ford was even born, Jimmy Stewart had defined the patented Harrison Ford scared look with his own Jimmy Stewart scared look. In The Man Who Knew Too Much, Stewart’s Dr. Ben McKenna and his wife, Jo (Doris Day) witness the murder of a Frenchman who whispers in his dying breath the secret on which the whole movie is hinged. McKenna and wife are unwittingly submerged into a maelstrom of crosses and double-crosses in this Hitchcock remake of his own 1934 film.

Return To Paradise: A remake of the Alan Bates/Kristen Scott Thomas film Force Majeure,, Sheriff (Vince Vaughn), Lewis (Joaquin Phoenix), and Tony (David Conrad) are three buddies partying throughout Asia, smoking dope, chasing tail, having a gay old time. Sheriff and Tony return to the States, but Lewis, an endangered species activist, decides to stay behind to save the Bornean orangutan. Bad call. Lewis is shanghaied by the Malaysian government, accused of drug running, and carted off to the Malaysian hooskow, which makes a Turkish prison look like a Turkish bath.

Force Majeure: Tourists Phillipe (Patrick Bruel) and Daniel (Francois Cluzet) buy some hashish from a Dutch guy who later gets arrested in a Micronesian country where the death penalty is mandatory for drug trafficking. Phillipe and Daniel admit that at least some of the hash belonged to them. Bad call. The Dutch guy’s sentence may get reduced but Phillipe and Daniel will be sent up the river too unless Amnesty International lawyer, Malcolm Forrest (Alan Bates) can start a letter-writing campaign or whatever it is they do to spring the unfortunate Frenchies.

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