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Kiss Of The Dragon

Martial arts superstar Jet Li returns to screens to kick ass and take names.


Top Bejing cop Liu Jian (Jet Li), conveniently called "Johnny" for us Americans, is called by French police to capture a Chinese druglord hiding out in Paris. Johnny teams with a devious and dishonest French cop Richard (Tcheky Karyo) who double-crosses him, leaving him framed for a murder and on the lam. Not only is Richard head of the Parisian police, he happens to be the City of Lights' leading pimp, and he's forced ex-junkie Jessica (Bridget Fonda) into cheap whoredom by holding her young daughter hostage. Johnny befriends Jessica and together they go after Richard armed with her street smarts and his--acupuncture needle bracelet? No kidding, it's Johnny's secret weapon that he uses to put his enemies out of action.


Let's face it, Jet Li's way better at kung fu than tongue fu--the poor guy couldn't act his way out of a paper bag. But like his character, Johnny, Li is just a good guy trying to do the best job he can, and you have to give him some credit for trying hard. Besides, he's a damn good martial artist. Karyo is way over the top, chewing the scenery like it was his last meal--he is impossibly vile, killing and maiming just 'cause. But Fonda takes the cake for worst performance as--would you believe--a whiny, melodramatic "farmer's daughter from North Dakota" turned out against her will. (Honestly, what's her track record lately? Monkeybone? Lake Placid? Somebody call John Travolta--they've found his next leading lady!)


Director Chris Nahon, known for making commercials, begs, borrows and steals from Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, starring none other than Bridget Fonda)--ooh, guess what? Besson is KOD's co-writer and producer. Well, at least the Nahon-Besson team could have connected the dots before trying to make the audience do it for them. Nothing's explained; even the most obvious questions go unanswered. Why is the bad guy so bad? Where are the cops as a fight rages on and on in the police headquarters? Not to mention these martial arts scenes (why else would you watch this? Certainly not for Li's "acting") lack creative, flowing choreography and instead are choppily cut, gratuitously vicious and sometimes downright gross (like, a guy gets two chopsticks to the throat) acts of violence.

Bottom Line

Jet Li warned parents not to take their kids to this movie; an even kinder gesture would have been to warn us all.