Cradle 2 the Grave (2003)
Review Date: February 26, 2003
Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Writer: John O'Brien, Channing Gibson
Producers: Joel Silver
A big-hearted thief and his crew of sexy chick and funnymen steal a load of "black diamonds" that are quickly sought after by many a crooked gentleman. An ass-kicking Asian chap also wants the stones, but he's got his own reasons for that. When the big-hearted thief's daughter is kidnapped, all hell breaks loose as he and his posse attempt all ways to get her back. A disposable story/action flick ensues.
If you liked BALLISTIC: ECKS VS SEVER, ROMEO MUST DIE or HALF PAST DEAD, you'll love CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE!! What I mean by that is that nobody is trying to "pull a fast one" over you with this flick. It's got all the standard elements of your "mindless urban action flick" including your rap star, your Asian connection, your comic relief (one fat black guy and one fat white guy), your babes (Gabrielle Union must've got her entire paycheck for her one sexy striptease scene alone...nice!), your hip-hop stylings, your guns, your cool cars, your explosions, your over-the-top fight sequences, your super-slick sunglasses and pretty much every other typical ingredient required to stew this Joel Silver brew. Of course, along with the more exciting points come the lesser ones as well, including the lame-ass storyline, the horrible melodrama (oh look, DMX really does care for his daughter!), the annoying McGyver-esque kid, the "badder than bad" bad guys, the putrid dialogue, the terrible acting (Jet Li's delivery actually had me thinking back to those Hong Kong dubbing "gems") and a major lack of any kind of real connection to anyone in the film. Okay, so you don't go into an "action" flick for real human emotion, but does DMX always have to play the thief...with the heart of gold?! The story here is also as bogus as you would expect, with a completely moronic conclusion featuring various top "arms dealers" from around the world gathering in an airport hangar to buy something for their respective countries, while smoking unlit cigars, looking like extras being paid 1 1/2 for working overtime and down-shifting into one of the stupidest "bidding wars" that I've ever seen in my entire life ("I will pay $4.3 million!", "$6.8 million!", "Sold!"). Gimme some credit, man...I know I'm a moron but not that big of a moron!
Having said that, the movie does start out with a very cool Eminem tune, DMX is the mack and as much as the guy creeps me out with all of his gyrating and shit, Tom Arnold is actually quite funny here. The flick also features a few invigorating action extravaganzas, including the rather tense opening scene, various moments of Li crushing butt with one hand in his pocket (natch!), as well as a major chase & brawl in the mid-section of the film, which features Li kicking about a dozen different stuntmen at the same time, while DMX goes "all-terrain" on our ass! Cool stuff. The film's finale wasn't as good however, but did showcase a pretty decent catfight between Kelly Hu and Union (yeah baby, yeaaaaaah!). Unfortunately, the obvious rain-infested, fire-in-the-background tete-a-tete of Li versus Marc Decoscos wasn't "all that", and neither was the fact that there were about five different scenes being intercut the whole time. The film's overall storyline also had about as many plot holes as my 3rd grade write-up of an action movie (I got a D+). But I didn't get into this "biz" to bitch about plot holes in action flicks, so let me give it to you straight...dog! If this is the kind of shizzit you're looking for, you can certainly do much worse (see the three former flicks for that), but if a DIE HARD-esque, original awesome action flick is your shtick, forget this manufactured piece of Wu-Tang and wait until you're really wasted one night, then rent it on video. Either way, your local video store is likely to be the outlet through which you will receive the greater return on your investment for this film. Either that or just rent porn like I do...it's good times and plot holes aren't that big of a factor. "Faith!"
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian