Tuesday 11 July 2017

Movie Review: Kiss Of The Dragon (2001)

A straightforward martial arts action flick, Kiss Of The Dragon delivers the requisite high energy fight scenes but little else of value.

Beijing police detective Liu Siu-jian (Jet Li) arrives in Paris to help Inspector Jean-Pierre Richard (TchĂ©ky Karyo) arrest high ranking Chinese drug smuggler Mr. Big (Ric Young) and his mysterious local contact. But Liu is walking into a trap, because the corrupt Richard is the French connection in the international criminal ring. Richard kills Mr. Big and tries to incriminate Liu, forcing the Beijing detective to flee into hiding at a Chinatown safehouse.

Liu eventually teams up with prostitute Jessica (Bridget Fonda), an American who is forcibly working for Richard as he holds her daughter at an orphanage. Liu gets some help from the Chinese embassy but is mostly on his own as he fights against an army of heavily armed corrupt cops to clear his name.

Directed by Chris Nahon, Kiss Of The Dragon serves the sole purpose of highlighting Jet Li's exceptional martial arts skills. And Li is terrific, taking on hordes of bad guys in large groups at a time, and efficiently disposing of them with ruthless efficiency. With a minimum of special effects, the fight scenes are choreographed with artistic beauty and sneaky humour. The film satisfies the requirement of one good fight about every seven minutes or so.

In between, there is nothing to latch onto. The plot is elemental and features an inordinate amount of gaping holes in common sense and logic, served by mechanical acting and dialogue exchanges. The villain Inspector Richard is straight out of a comic book for juveniles, and the story of a cop on strange turf, battling a frame-up and seeking revenge is as basic as an action movie can get. The honest prostitute with a heart of gold and a child she yearns for completes the mandated check boxes.

The Paris locations add a modicum of interest and Liu's Chinatown hideout along a derelict back lane provides an earthy backdrop. But otherwise Kiss Of The Dragon is plenty of flying limbs and too few cerebral whims.

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