I went into this film with more enthusiasm than any movie in recent memory. Claire Danes and Kate Beckinsale in a movie about women in prison? Holy God, pop open a can of Vaseline and clear out the seat in front of me -- that sounds like fun. Wouldn't you know it, the whole thing is B.S. Where are all the pointless nude shower sequences? Where's the hot lesbian action? What this movie needed was Sybil Danning in full leather, explaining to Claire and Kate the rules in the chick clink.
Speaking of the chick clink, what is the deal with womens' prisons in the Far East? Looked to me like life was a whole lot harder for Joaquin Phoenix in "Return to Paradise." In "Brokedown Palace," Alice (Danes) and Darlene (Beckinsale) get set up and imprisoned for smuggling drugs, and where do they go? A locked-down Club Med. I've seen girl scouts beaten harder for missing cookie sales quotas.
And what is the deal with every American who gets busted for drug smuggling uttering the following phrase: "I'm an American. I have a right to a lawyer."? In case you didn't know, that translates into Thai as "I'm an idiot. Shoot me now." A lawyer, Yankee Hank (Bill Pullman) does actually show up to help the girls, but runs into -- you guessed it -- resistance. Part of that comes from the stereotypical corrupt U.S. Embassy guy, played by Lou Diamond Phillips.
Director Jonathan ("Bad Girls") Kaplan's idea of an important social statement is to interject a sultry ballad between every scene of Claire and Kate moping about the prison yard in their -- gasp -- bare feet. For drama, we've got the mean Thai prisoner who has it out for Claire and the Jamaican prisoner who explains to our heroines: "You got to have de freedom in here (pointing to her head) and here (pointing to her heart)." Now, a Jamaican prison campfire tune or two, and this film really would have had it all.
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