Like in Return to Paradise, which featured a spectacular view of a beautiful country and three men caught up in the fierce legal system of Malaysia.
Brokedown Palace presents to the audience a beautiful, but strict Thailand where Alice (Claire Danes) and Darlene (Kate Beckinsale) are arrested for drug smuggling. The comparisons between these two films can’t go unnoticed – in fact I’ve even read it being called ‘Return to Paradise with chicks.’
But by comparing Brokedown Palace to Return to Paradise is an insult, because where Return to Paradise was a beautifully scripted and enthralling drama about two friends who must make the ultimate sacrifice to save the life of another, Brokedown Palace fails to present to us a clear story, and annoyingly switches between the courtroom, the jail cell, and freedom in almost erratic manner that doesn’t add to the effect.
How this movie ever got made is a ponderable question, given the almost verbatim lifting from Sean Penn’s showcase Midnight Express and also Return to Paradise.
If you have never seen Return to Paradise, maybe you’ll like Brokedown Palace. The sexy Claire Danes does deliver a spectacular performance and possibly with a better script, Beckinsale’s character could have blossomed. The movie begins strongly, showing the two girls in Thailand living it up, but once they are caught for drug-smuggling, the whole movie seems to fall apart.
Whether this is supposed to mirror the girl’s troubles, the movie tries too hard to be a powerful drama, but always just-misses the effects it is striving for.
While parts of this movie were enjoyable, the plot just never really thickened and there were many themes left unresolved. Overall, the movie is interesting at times, but there’s no way it can live up to Return to Paradise or Midnight Express.