Eye For Film >> Movies >> Kiss Of The Dragon (2001) Film Review
Kiss Of The Dragon
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
It helps to have a credible adversary in martial arts movies. Otherwise, they become silly.
Kiss Of The Dragon is very silly. China's top secret agent (Jet Li) is sent to Paris to help the police. You have no idea why. Within a day of arrival, he has been framed for murder and is on the run. Later, he befriends an American (Bridget Fonda), whose daughter has been kidnapped by the police chief (Tcheky Karyo). As well as killing people in cold blood, this government official uses drugs to trap unsuspecting foreign girls into prostitution. The Nazis would have expelled him for being too extreme.
There is no humour in the film, only viciousness and violence. The fight scenes lack Jackie Chan's lightness of touch, or the balletic beauty of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. They are fast, workmanlike and one-sided. When the diminuitive Chinaman takes on an entire judo class, armed with staves, his hard won victory carries no conviction.
Luc Besson's name on the credits as co-writer/producer should be a good sign. Didn't he direct Nikita and Leon and The Fifth Element? Yes, but more recently he was responsible for The Messenger: The Story Of Joan Of Arc, with his girlfriend Milla Jovovich, which was awful, as well as Taxi 2, which wasn't much better. The script for Kiss Of The Dragon, co-written with Robert Mark Kamen, reads like a rush job.
Jet Li makes Bridget Fonda look taller than Uma Thurman. After retiring as National Wushu Champion of China at the age of 17, having held the title for four years, he starred in 25 Asian martial arts movies, before coming to America for Lethal Weapon 4 - he was the best thing in it. As an actor, he has learnt that less is more. As a fighter, he relies on speed.
Fonda's role is stereotypical. She plays a victim type, which gives her no chance to rise above it, and so appears a sad figure, in awe of the evil one.Reviewed on: 08 Nov 2001