Kiss of the Dragon
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A Chinese cop (Li) gets involved in an international incident while working a case in Paris. After being falsely accused of the murder of an important witness, he must rely on the help of a skanky hooker (Fonda) to clear his name. As he punches and kicks his way through the City of Light, he only enrages the psychos who are after him even more and leads them into a vicious barrage of flying fists!
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Jet Li is a pretty exciting guy but even he can’t make this cliché-ridden, plot hole-infested film work. Soon after it begins, you confirm what you thought would happen when you signed up for the film: it relies solely on Jet beating several people up in order to keep breathing and pretty much any other touch of originality is forgotten. Now don’t get me wrong, Jet Li kicks some serious ass and it’s always fun to watch him do so, but in every movie’s life, there comes a time when something new will have to happen. Unfortunately, it never does here. The bad guys are caricatures, the Chinese guys are all into incense, acupuncture and spirituality and the evil cops can go around shooting up a storm without the spectre of an investigation hanging over them. This film also has one of the most annoying traits in all of cinema: A bunch of French guys getting together in a room and speaking English with French accents instead of speaking French. This is followed by a bunch of Chinese guys getting in a room and speaking English with a Chinese accent rather than speaking Chinese. Look, if you can’t find an actor who speaks French, don’t shoot movies in Paris! I’m as practical as the next guy but come on…
Li himself is as he usually is. Don’t expect him to recite Hamlet, but he keeps you entertained. What’s sad is watching a great actor like Tcheky Karyo debase himself by playing a role in which he gradually becomes more and more of a parody as the minutes tick away. All that being said, all the above does not prevent this movie from keeping you awake for an hour and a half, but does prevent it from being more than just that. As far as action goes, you get plenty of it but it’s like a hamburger...everyone likes the ketchup and mustard, but without meat, there ain't much there…
Pretty full plate here, starting with a feature-length commentary by Jet Li, Bridget Fonda and director Chris Nahon. Pretty ordinary and everyone is as you expect: Jet Li is funny and charming, Bridget Fonda is pretentious and Nahon is French. Par for the course. Next up are a couple of 10-minute long documentaries. The first one is entitled “Jet Li – Fighting Philosophy” in which he discusses the deeper philosophy of martial arts and the spiritual aspect of the ass-kickings he doles out. He’s a pretty interesting guy and he seems to know his stuff. The next doc is called “Cory Yuen – Action Academy” and features martial arts choreographer Cory Yuen discussing the background of his profession and the way young Chinese guys were herded into Martial Arts school at a young age to learn their craft. Pretty insightful.
A couple of Martial Arts Demos are the next feature. This is actually pretty simple yet pretty cool. With no narration, you watch some stuntmen rehearsing a fight scene. The cool part is to see how they start making the moves really slowly and counting and how they gradually increase the tempo. By the time they shoot the scene, these guys barely wink as they finish beating up on each other. Your next little stop on the tour is a 7-minute, long clip called “On-the-set Action” in which you can watch a montage of action scenes being shot. Very basic but it’s always fun to watch cameras slide by on dollies. After you’re done with that, you can watch two storyboard-to-scene comparisons. These, I always like. Split screen between a storyboard and the actual scene. The guy in the storyboards actually looks like Jet Li.
A 10-minute long production featurette is next in the food chain. Regular stuff in which everyone comments on the movie. You’ll recognize it on the features menu as the featurette entitled “featurette”. Pretty original. The rest is your average DVD fodder: Gallery stills, Trailer and TV spots. All in all, I can’t complain about the offerings on this baby.
Unfortunately, this one can be considered no more than average. The film is regular, cliché and full of kicks and dragon fists. The extras are solid and the film is good looking. It’s just not really original or anything new, but it will make a more than decent rental on a winter night.