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Kiss of the Dragon

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Kiss of the Dragon

Starring: Jet Li, Bridget Fonda
Director: Crhis Nahon
Rated: R
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: July 2001
Genres: Action, Martial Arts

*Also starring: Tcheky Karyo, Burt Kwouk, Laurence Ashley, Max Ryan

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

In KISS OF THE DRAGON, Jet Li could be called a lean, mean, fighting machine were it not for his monk-like stoicism. Given his complete absence of emotion, a more apt description would be to call him a lean, fighting cipher. But, if it's merely violent action you crave, then Chris Nahon's KISS OF THE DRAGON will not disappoint you, as the director seems to be shooting for a DPS (Deaths Per Scene) rate somewhere in the single digits.

Although the movie is basically a Jet Li martial arts extravaganza, it does have a supporting cast, including an overacting Tchéky Karyo as corrupt French police officer Jean-Pierre Richard and Bridget Fonda, playing way under her capabilities, as a prostitute named Jessica. "I'm stupid, but I'm not that stupid," Fonda's character says at one point. Well, Fonda signed up to do this bit of acting slumming, which was pretty stupid, especially after her MONKEYBONE bomb.

Chinese policeman Liu Jian is in Paris to work with Richard. Referred to by one of the Frenchman as "Mr. Statue," Liu can do some ferocious fighting when he isn't staring blankly. In his best stunt, he kicks a billiard ball out of the pocket and into the air. From there, he launches it like a missile with his flying feet so that it kills his attacker with a massive blow to the forehead. Typical of the level of violence in the story is a gory scene in which Liu kills one victim by ramming two chopsticks through his neck. Among Liu's more unusual skills is his ability to turn the healing art of acupuncture into a heinous technique for death. Think of the deadly efficient Jet Li as the exact opposite of the sweetly humorous Jackie Chan.

The movie's biggest surprise is that, even with three people working on the script (Jet Li, Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen), they were unable to come up with a plot. Then again, maybe they didn't want to constrain the action sequences by having to adhere to some arbitrary storyline. Better to just let Jet Li fight and stare. And fight again.

KISS OF THE DRAGON runs a long 1:38. It is rated R for strong violence, language, some sexuality and drug content and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave the film ***, praising the high level of action and complaining about the lack of a plot.

Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes

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