|Kiss of the Dragon||
Nice backdrop. Jet Li fights off the baddies somewhere in Europe. Wait, I'll figure it out in a moment....
dir Chris Nahon|
scr Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
with Jet Li, Bridget Fonda, Tcheky Karyo, Burt Kwouk, Isabelle Duhauvelle, Laurence Ashley, John Forgeham, Cyril Raffaelli, Didier Azoulay, Max Ryan, Colin Prince, Vincent Glo
release US 6.Jul.01; UK 9.Nov.01
Based on a story by Jet Li himself, this film has Luc Besson's footprints all over it. Inane and illogical on every level, the film at least has visual style to go with Li's fierce energy. The story centres on highly trained Chinese cop Liu Jian (Li) who travels to Paris for some ill-defined reason, going undercover with the thuggish and brutal Inspector Richard (Karyo), who frames him for a murder for some ill-defined reason. Then, coincidentally, Liu links up with Richard's floozy hooker Jessica (Fonda) to go on the run, clear his name and rescue Jessica's daughter (Duhauvelle), who's being held hostage in an orphanage (!) for some ill-defined reason.
Besides the inventive action sequences, which do indeed find new ways to cause all manner of mayhem, there's not an original thought in this film. The simplistic, cliche-packed script makes you feel sorry for the likes of Fonda and Karyo, fine actors reduced to babbling morons who do one idiotic thing after another. Li somehow manages to keep his dignity amid the chaos; even the core story isn't that bad. Besson seems to believe that Parisians (who all speak English, naturally) are used to seeing death and destruction every street corner; bodies pile up in mind-boggling numbers, several of them dispatched in outlandishly gruesome ways, while passers-by shrug and go about heir normal lives. All the while the motives of the Evil Villain become progressively muddled and pointless. The improbability factor is completely off the scale as the film's direction gets louder and more numbing, with increasingly huge guns, fiery explosions and sadistic killing. This is all obscured by a slick production that is energetic and quite exciting to watch. But beneath the sheen there's absolutely nothing holding it together.
|Manuele, Belgium: "jet li is a great fighter. Kiss off the Dragon is the best martial arts movie." (30.Oct.04)|