Brokedown Palace (1999)

Foolish teens today, thinking they can smuggle drugs into East Asian countries and get away with it. Foolish screenwriter for thinking we haven’t seen this exact same situation done many times before and done many times better. And foolish audience for actually paying to go see this.

The movie desperately tries to be an emotional tale of the chains of friendship and perseverance, and it uses earlier examples like Midnite Express and Return to Paradise as staples. But the movie is devoid of emotion all together because of one glaring fault in the flick: the girls are complete idiots! Throughout the whole movie they’re given cliched and horrendous dialogue to spurt. You can’t feel any attachment or connection because they are just so incompetent that on some cosmic level it’s almost like they deserve what they get. And they didn’t get much. The ending is rather ludicrous because it tries to have this strong emotional force but is only a whimper because there was little attachment to the characters in the first place.

It’s a common practice in movies to put the characters through harrowing and dangerous circumstances so that the audience will pull for them and be drawn closer to them emotionally. And in this genre nothing can do that like the good ole’ inhuman prison system so monstrously shown in previous films. But I don’t know where these girls went or who their travel agent was because where they stay is like the Club Med of all those horrible foreign prisons. They’re almost livin’ it up for an inhuman hell hole.

The women-in-prison genre is a classic cheesy late night television smorgasbord of gratuitous nudity and shower sequences that are almost the entire purpose of the genre. Brokedown Palace certainly isn’t going to go down this route. You won’t see Claire Danes sponging off Kate Beckinsale’s body during a mass shower, or see the tough lesbian guard who runs her shop tight and mean, or the tough lesbian rival in the jail cells. What you do get is a script that tries to garner emotion but instead can only grasp for cheap melodrama.

Nate’s Grade: C

About natezoebl

One man. Many movies. I am a cinephile (which spell-check suggests should really be "epinephine"). I was told that a passion for movies was in his blood since I was conceived at a movie convention. While scientifically questionable, I do remember a childhood where I would wake up Saturday mornings, bounce on my parents' bed, and watch Siskel and Ebert's syndicated TV show. That doesn't seem normal. At age 17, I began writing movie reviews and have been unable to stop ever since. I was the co-founder and chief editor at (2007-2014) and now write freelance. I have over 1400 written film reviews to my name and counting. I am also a proud member of the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA) since 2012. In my (dwindling) free time, I like to write uncontrollably. I wrote a theatrical genre mash-up adaptation titled "Our Town... Attacked by Zombies" that was staged at my alma mater, Capital University in the fall of 2010 with minimal causalities and zero lawsuits. I have also written or co-written sixteen screenplays and pilots, with one of those scripts reviewed on industry blog Script Shadow. Thanks to the positive exposure, I am now also dipping my toes into the very industry I've been obsessed over since I was yea-high to whatever people are yea-high to in comparisons.

Posted on August 1, 1999, in 1999 Movies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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