Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Ultimate Fighting Champions; Choreography
of the Camera; The Descender Rig; Easter Egg 'Time Lapse
Montage' and 'Rear Projection'; 'X Gon Give It To Ya'
DMX music video; Trailer.
MARTIAL arts maestro, Jet Li, continues to deliver some truly
exceptional fight scenes in some truly moronic movies, pitting
his wits alongside wannabe actor, DMX, for his latest, Cradle
2 The Grave.
Having captivated viewers with his physical prowess as the villain
in Lethal Weapon 4, Li has appeared in a series of no-brainers,
from the passable likes of Romeo Must Die and Kiss
of the Dragon, to the utterly stupid The One.
Cradle 2 The Grave, however, takes the brainless action franchise
to new extremes, delivering some genuinely thrilling fight sequences
and wrapping them up in a needlessly complex, yet equally nonsensical
plot, involving a cache of black diamonds that are not all they
Li stars as Taiwanese government agent, Su, who is forced to team
up with DMXs streetwise thief, Tony Fait, to retrieve the
diamonds, after they fall into the wrong hands.
For Su, the case represents a chance to catch up with his former
partner, Ling (Mark Dacascos), now a ruthless criminal, while
for Fait, who initially stole the haul, the diamonds are the only
way to secure the release of his daughter, who is being held hostage
Thrown into the mix is Tom Arnolds hapless fence, and Chi
McBrides prison-based crime lord (who gets his hands on
the diamonds), in addition to the usual array of heavies
just waiting to get beat up.
And beat up is probably how audiences will feel afterwards. For
the action junkies, Adrzej Bartkowiaks film provides its
fair share of thrills, including a spectacular car chase between
the police and an all terrain vehicle, as well as a barnstorming
sequence involving Li and a cage full of Ultimate Fighting champions.
But for every high, there are plenty of lows, which constantly
undermine the verve of the set pieces. For starters, the acting
is awful, with DMX, in particular, providing a completely bland
presence, while the focus of the movie feels uneven throughout.
This is, first and foremost, a Jet Li film. Yet most, if not all,
of his fight sequences are inter-spliced with brawls involving
the movies other stars, which fail to match
the ingenuity or excitement of those involving the master.
And his big showdown with Brotherhood
of the Wolfs Dacascos (whom Lis fans chose, on
his website, as the man they would most like to see Li face off
against) is, again, marred by the fights going on around it, and
by a curious lack of build-up.
Viewers only find out about the history between the two in the
minutes leading up to the finale, while Dacascos isnt afforded
the screen-time to make his villain appear evil enough.
The tiresome sentiment, involving DMXs kidnapped daughter
(who grates), also feels false, and only serves to highlight what
a terrible actor the hip-hop star really is.
Cradle 2 The Grave performed surprisingly well at the US box office,
where it enjoyed a short stint at number one, but you get the
feeling that this is better suited to the more-controlled viewing
experience that is DVD - you can scene select the action sequences
and skip the drivel that comes in between!