a critiQal film review Kiss of the Dragon (2001)

Plot: A police officer, Smith (Li) from Beijing is sent to France to help in the capture of a drug smuggler. When things go awry, French Inspector Richard sets up Smith to take the blame. Smith is befriended by a hooker (Fonda), who’s daughter is being held captive by Inspector Richard. Now Smith must prove his innocence and save the hooker’s daughter.

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  • ...If you’re in the mood for a martial arts picture a cut above most of the rest, this movie will satisfy.

The first thing I thought of when I saw Kiss Of The Dragon was that it was a sort of The Replacement Killers (1998) Part II. In that movie Chow Yun Fat and Mira Sorvino teamed up, in this one it’s Jet Li and Bridget Fonda. This movie, however, didn’t try to follow the complete same plot as The Replacement Killers (1998), and turned out not too bad.

The plot was decent. Put the hero in danger, and then throw this extra person in the mix, and now he has to help her too. The film moved smoothly, and the story stayed true to itself.

Jet Li was pretty good as the visiting police officer. The film seemed to focus quite a bit on him having to stare down his opponents, and it also was a good vehicle to show off his amazing martial arts moves. He has teamed up a few times with a female lead (such as Romeo Must Die (2000)), and although he seemed to have more chemistry with Aaliyah in Romeo Must Die (2000), he did seem to feel sorry for Fonda here, and so you could understand why he was helping her (It didn’t hurt that he needed her to prove his innocence, either).

Bridget Fonda doesn’t compare, apparently, to Mira Sorvino in this type of role. She seemed a bit too forced most of the time. Inspector Richard (Karyo) seemed a bit forced at times too, and came off as almost too evil for the role. He’s done the same type of role before (in Bad Boys (1995)), and seemed to do a better job of it in that movie.

The stunts were unbelievable. From fighting an entire martial arts class at once (WOW he’s fast!) to tossing back a grenade (nice head kick to the Inspector there) to even kicking a pool ball at someone (ver-r-ry nice), Jet Li was able to show off his skills to a large degree in this film, and it’s great to watch!

If you’re in the mood for a martial arts picture a cut above most of the rest, this movie will satisfy. The DVD bonus features are also a major plus, and you’ll be happy most of them are included. You’ll probably want to own this one on DVD if you’re a fan of The Replacement Killers (1998) or Romeo Must Die (2000).

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