After his first two laughably bad films, EXIT WOUNDS and ROMEO MUST DIE, Polish
director Andrzej Bartkowiak finally gets close to delivering a decent action
picture with CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE. Buried within it is a half-hour shorter movie
that would sizzle. As delivered, it is bogged down with too much fat and too
many needlessly ludicrous moments, with whole last act being a prime example.
The movie effectively pairs Jet Li, the iceman of the martial arts world, with
rapper DMX. As a super accomplished and well-off high tech thief named Fait,
DMX is given the movie's hardest character to believe. Fait, who heads up a
large gang with a "no gun policy" no less, prays regularly with his 8-year-old
daughter, who ends up being a pawn in a child endangerment scheme. As a
Taiwanese detective named Su, Jet Li plays against his usual bad guy type.
Fait and Su team up to thwart some really bad guys. Along the way, the two
heroes mix it up with energetic bravado. Li's best scene occurs in a fight in
which he never even bothers to take his hands out of his pockets. Anthony
Anderson (KANGAROO JACK), who plays one of Fait's gang members, adds the story's
much needed comedic touch as does Tom Arnold, who plays a fence and an arms
At its best, CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE is escapist fun. The ending, however, has more
problems than you can count. I had trouble enjoying a film in which the world's
most powerful plutonium for nuclear weapons is sold to the highest terrorist
bidder. And I didn't appreciate the movie's strange need to be politically
correct when it came to terrorist organizations. In a large group of bidders,
there aren't any Arab extremists or any members of the Axis of Evil countries.
What planet do the film's screenwriters live on?
CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE runs 1:40. It is rated R for "violence, language and some
sexual content" and would be acceptable for teenagers.
My son Jeffrey, almost 14, gave it ***. He liked it all until the ending, when
he said the stupid special effects and the ridiculous fight scene almost
destroyed the entire movie. My wife had trouble controlling her laughter during
the final fight sequence.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes