Kiss of the Dragon (2001)

Directed by Chris Nahon
Written by Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen, based on a story by Jet Li
Starring Jet Li, Bridget Fonda, Tcheky Karyo, Ric Young, Burt Kwouk


Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Avoid It.

Liu Jian (Li) is on loan to the Paris police force from China. Apparently, the Paris head burrito (Karyo) needs some assistance with arresting a Chinese big shot. But somehow Liu finds himself alone in Paris with his fingerprints on the gun that whacked the criminal. Now he has to find Jessica (Fonda), a hooker who has some inkling of what's going on, and keep them both alive with an entire city trying to kill them.

It's a sad year when a French foreign language period piece (Brotherhood of the Wolf) is a better martial arts movie than a Jet Li endeavor. And Kiss had Luc Besson going for it! And was filmed in France! Coincidence? I think not. But seriously, this movie is unbelievably weak. Li put together the story for this, and it honestly feels like he just wrote down a grocery list of things he wanted to see happen in the film--whether it makes any sense or not. "I want to thrown down with a gigantic, muscular black guy." Done. No idea where the guy came from, he just shows up and they fight. "I want to go up against twenty-five black belts." Done. Walk through a door and who should be conveniently practicing? Twenty-five black belts!

After watching the film I was convinced that this used to be the feature film version of the video game Final Fight: villains show up and you pummel them. Sure, there's some plot about somebody being kidnapped, but no one remembers that--they remember kicking ass on a subway train. Same thing here: the Parisian police force is apparently completely corrupt--every single last one of them--and they can open fire with automatic weapons anywhere they want to within their jurisdiction. Amazing. Don't get me wrong--the fight sequences are good, but why even have the pretense of a plot if you're just going to make it preposterous?

What's really sad is that this is actually a formidably loaded title in the DVD department. The commentary is of mild interest, but a little frustrating dealing with the accents of both Li and Nahon. Most amusing is the fact that Li and Fonda both talk about other projects, past and future, quite a bit when you'd think they'd be talking about this one. Also of note is that they both talk on the disc's extra features about how the story is important, good characters are important--neither of which exist in the film. Fonda apparently took the role script unseen--bet you she never pulls that stunt again.

The featurettes regarding Li go further into his love of story and plot, which is a head-scratcher in light of this film and Romeo Must Die. Some of the behind the scenes glimpses are fairly worthy as well, but I've got to tell you that the best part of this disc is the fact the production gallery stills automatically advance, as opposed to having to click the right arrow on your remote a hundred times.

If you're a huge fan of Jet Li films, you might want to be a completist and own this. But a slew of moderately interesting features can't save a very laughable flick. Everyone else should flee.

Buy it from Amazon!
Buy the soundtrack from Amazon!

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