In the 1999 version of “Bangkok Dangerous,” the film’s lead character, Kong, was a deaf-mute assassin for hire. In the 2008 remake, Nicolas Cage plays the lead…but while he’s still a hitman, his name is now Joe, and he can hear and speak quite fine, thank you. There’s still a Kong in the film, however, and that character is still a deaf-mute…but now she’s a pickpocket hired by Joe as his assistant.

Was Cage, a man who has been known to enjoy an acting challenge once in awhile, disappointed about the change for the American remake?

He was not.

“I actually thought it worked out better to have the leading lady have that aspect to her behavior,” Cage told Bullz-Eye, during a conference call to promote the release of “Bangkok Dangerous.” “It made it more emotional somehow. Also, my interests were more about the story of this white man in an entirely Asian world and trying to fit in and trying to connect in some way to the culture.”

Cage, who is preparing to start work on the motion picture adaptation of the Mark Millar / John Romita Jr. comic book series “Kick Ass,” just completed filming on “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” directed by Werner Herzog. Although it shares the first part of its title with a 1992 film, it’s not really a remake of Abel Ferrara’s “Bad Lieutenant.” As such, Cage didn’t need to quiz his “National Treasure” co-star, Harvey Keitel, about his experience in playing the title character in Ferrara’s film…not that he would have, anyway.

“I feel that Harvey did what he had to do, and I have to do what I have to do,” said Cage. “And although I know Harvey and I like Harvey, we’re two very different actors, so they’re going to be two very different experiences.”

And how different was his experience working with Herzog?

“Well, Werner has a unique vision,” Cage admitted. “He comes into a movie with a definite sense of control and an approach that is not like anyone else anywhere in the world. That’s what I was looking for: somebody who would give me an experience that would be new, that wouldn’t be like anything I’d done before. And that’s what I got!”

As for his plans beyond “Kick Ass,” Cage made mention of his interest in doing a second “Ghost Rider” film, with Johnny Blaze possibly showing off his cycle skills in Europe, but such a sequel is strictly in in the discussion stage at this point.