Deafness in “Bangkok Dangerous”

Once a week, my husband goes to the video store on the way home from work and rents DVD’s for our entertainment. As he is a macho kinda guy, we tend to watch a lot of action movies (though earlier this week we finally watched Okuribito – very good!!) Anyway, last night we watched Bangkok Dangerous in which Nicholas Cage appears as a killer-for-hire. Most interesting to me about this movie was the love interest, a beautiful deaf pharmacist that the Gage character meets when looking to get a wound treated.

In contrast to the sleazy dancers elsewhere in the film, this woman was portrayed as silent, mysterious and pure. (Perhaps this is the male ideal? The number one hostess in Japan is a deaf woman who consoles men with calligraphy.) At any rate, I appreciated that this woman was a professional, and that her deafness was not portrayed as negative. There were a few things that bordered on the unbelievable, however. Although the woman could lip read and write in English, the two rarely communicated via writing. And the Cage character doesn’t even find out the woman’s name until after their first date, when he visits her house.

My own daughter is sometimes a mystery to me, but she is not demure or silent, and she uses any means at her disposal to communicate with those around her. She signs, writes, and draws pictures. Sometimes she yells. And whenever she meets a new person, the first thing she wants to know is their name.

“Bangkok Dangerous” isn’t the best movie of all time, and there have been better representations of deaf individuals in film. Nevertheless, I am always happy to encounter deaf characters positively portrayed in movies and books.

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6 thoughts on “Deafness in “Bangkok Dangerous”

  1. I just finished reading a book with a hearing impaired character..thought I’d mention it to you. It’s the sequel to Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner. The main character in that one, Cannie, has a premature daughter. In the follow up novel, Certain Girls, her daughter Joy has significant hearing loss and is supposed to wear hearing aids. However, being an almost teen (the sequel is set about 12 years later) she doesn’t want to stand out.

    Her deafness isn’t the main theme of the story, but I thought I’d mention it in case you were interested in it.

    • Thank you, Helen. I’ll have to check this out. I am indeed very interested in reading fiction featuring characters with disabilities, and especially parents of children with disabilities.

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