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"Kiss of the Dragon"

Directed by Chris Nahon.
Written by Luc Besson ("The Professional") and Robert Mark Kamen.
Starring Jet Li, Tcheky Karyo and Bridget Fonda.
Release Year:  2001 
Review Date:  7/6/01 


You are all busy people, as am I.  And, I know that sometimes, especially on a Monday morning, you like to blow through the reviews as quickly as humanly possible, so that you can get on with your lives.

With this in mind--and, the simple fact that I have seen three movies today, and I am writing reviews on them all--I want to cut right to the heart of it.

In "Kiss of the Dragon", martial arts import Jet Li--who, day in and day out, vies with Vin Diesel for the title of "Coolest Name for a Movie Star"--plays some Chinese cop that gets set up.  He is, naturally, the BEST cop in China, has been decorated dozens of times for hundreds of honors, and therefore beats the living shit out of all the bad guys he comes up against.  Bridget Fonda plays--I am not kidding--a North Dakotan former crack-addicted whore that is missing a daughter in Paris.  The two team up to take down a dirty French inspector (French star Tcheky Karyo).

The story for this film is embarrassing and full of holes.  Not one time during the course of the film do we find out why Fonda's character is so far from her North Dakotan roots.  What is she doing in France?  The film is set in Paris, but not one character speaks a word of French the entire time!  Amazing!  China's chief negotiator is assassinated mid-film; when he gets capped, the Chinese just put him in a box and send him home.  I would have thought that the Chinese would have sent more investigators to check out the reasons behind his broad-daylight death; instead, we don't hear from Chinese government officials again.  Who is the man that Li's character stays with?  His dad?  His uncle?  His godfather?  Not that it is important, since it is reasonably clear from the beginning that the guy is going to get capped anyway.

And, to make matters worse, Li pulls a couple of Remo Williams** out of his ass for good measure, just so I don't believe ANY of the shit that goes on in the movie.  By the time he kicks a pool table ball into another guy's skull (killing him, no less), I could hardly control myself.

Save for an exciting final fifteen minutes, this movie is a piece of fucking shit.  In fact, along with "Lethal Weapon 4" and "Romeo Must Die", Li is having an awful time of finding a good American part.  You can blame "Kiss of the Dragon" on Li himself:  he wrote the story and produced this film, along with French film director Luc Besson ("The Professional").  Gordon "Money" Stokes and my roommate Keith attended this showing with me, and both thought this movie had Hard Vice written all over it.  The action at the end saved the film, in my mind.  Gordon's words?  "This movie is fucking painful!!"  Keith's thoughts?  "This was the worst movie I have seen this year."

Li was supposed to appear in the sequel to "The Matrix" next year, but he dropped out of the project.  Another stroke of bad luck for Li?  It sure looks that way, judging by how he has picked his films thus far here in America.  You are better off renting some of Li's better films before he came over, including "Fist of Legend" and any of the "Once Upon a Time in China" series of films (there are three).

Rating:  Rental

**Remo Williams:  Any scene in a movie where a character is standing within ten feet of another gun-wielding individual and, upon being shot at by said gun wielder, dodges the bullet with a panache not ever seen in real life.  Taken from the ridiculous Chinese mentor from the awful Fred Ward film "Remo Williams:  The Adventure Begins...".


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09