Brokedown Palace

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Brokedown Palace
Brokedown Palace.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jonathan Kaplan
Produced by Adam Fields
Written by David Arata
Adam Fields
David Arata
Edited by Don Zimmerman
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • August 13, 1999 (1999-08-13)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English, Thai
Budget $25 million
Box office $10,115,013

Brokedown Palace is a 1999 American drama film directed by Jonathan Kaplan, and starring Claire Danes, Kate Beckinsale, Bill Pullman and Lim Kay Tong. It deals with two American friends imprisoned in Thailand for drug smuggling. Because it presents a critical view of the Thai legal system, most scenes were filmed in the Philippines; however, some panoramas and views were filmed in Bangkok. Its title is taken from a Grateful Dead song written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter from their 1970 album American Beauty.


Lifelong best friends Alice Marano and Darlene Davis take a trip after graduating from high school, giving their parents the impression that they're going to Hawaii. However, Alice talks Darlene into going to Thailand instead, after comparing the prices of both destinations. Darlene agrees, albeit with some reluctance. Once in Thailand, they meet a captivating Australian man who calls himself Nick Parks. Darlene is particularly smitten with Nick and convinces Alice to take Nick up on his offer to treat the two of them to what amounts to a day trip to Hong Kong. At the airport, the girls are seized by the police and shocked to discover that one of their bags contains heroin.

The two girls are interrogated by the Thai police and Darlene signs a confession written in Thai, which she foolishly thinks is her verbatim statement. At their trial, they beg for mercy and are given a lenient 33-year sentence instead of the usual life sentence in prison. In prison, the girls are advised to seek out Henry Greene, aka "Yankee Hank", an expatriate American attorney living in Thailand.

As the girls try to deal with the violence and squalor of prison, Hank begins work on their case. He tracks down another girl who had been used as an unwitting drug mule by Nick Parks, but is warned that the smuggler has friends in high places. Hank arranges a deal with a corrupt prosecutor whereby the girls will receive a clemency if they confess to having lied about Parks' involvement. However, the prosecutor reneges on the deal after the girls confess. Desperate, and realizing that Darlene will not survive their time in prison, Alice begs the King of Thailand to allow her to serve both of their sentences in exchange for letting Darlene go. The deal is accepted and Darlene is released, where she promises to continue working with Hank to try and free Alice.



In 1998, just after the filming of Brokedown Palace in Manila, Danes was quoted in Vogue as saying that Manila was a "ghastly and weird city".[1] She further remarked in Premiere that the city "smelled of cockroaches, with rats all over and that there is no sewage system and the people do not have anything—no arms, no legs, no eyes".[1] Kim Atienza, son of then Mayor of Manila Lito Atienza, responded to the comments by saying, "Those are irresponsible, bigoted and sweeping statements that we cannot accept".[1] Her films were subsequently banned from being screened in the Philippines.[2] Joseph Estrada, then President of the Philippines, condemned her publicly,[3] and she was declared persona non grata.[4]


Brokedown Palace received negative reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes rated the film "Rotten", with only 31% of 35 critics giving positive reviews, summarizing that the movie "lacks credibility and tension".[5] Roger Ebert however gave the film three out of four stars, saying "The heart of the film is in the performances of Danes and Beckinsale".

The film underperformed at the box office, failing to make back even half of its $25 million budget.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Claire Danes no thrilla for Manila". CNN. 1998-09-23. Retrieved 2007-07-28. 
  2. ^ "Claire Danes apologizes for Manila criticism". CNN. 1998-10-12. Retrieved 2007-07-28. 
  3. ^ Tacio, Henrylito D. (2006-08-26). "Filmed in the Philippines". Sun.Star. Archived from the original on September 7, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-28. 
  4. ^ "Manila Is Mad At Claire Danes". CBS News. 1998-10-01. Retrieved 2007-07-28. 
  5. ^ "Brokedown Palace - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-02-28. 

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