Best movie of this year hands down!
Good story, Not enough for a whole film
It's complicated... I really like the directing, acting and writing but, there are issues with the way it's shot that I just can't deny. As much as I love the storytelling and the fantastic performance but, there are also certain scenes that didn't need to exist.
Unshakable, witty and deeply felt, the film will be paying emotional dividends for a long, long time.
This film was released to pretty dreadful reviews, but I always felt it was Jet Li's best English language film. "Romeo is Bleeding" is also quite good, but Li has a story credit on this one and the script was written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, the schlocky team behind enjoyably cartoony action films like the Transporter and Taken franchises. Both of those series are entertaining semi-serious action/revenge nonsense, and that is pretty much what "Kiss of the Dragon" is as well. Li plays a Chinese police office going to Paris to arrest a Chinese drug lord, but finds himself framed by dirty French cops. Li goes on the run, but with help from prostitute Bridget Fonda, to crack the drug ring. The story isn't really all that great, like most Besson pictures ("Leon" being the main exception), but the action is terrific (Li's regulars collaborator Corey Yuen was the martial arts choreographer on this film). Besides Li being an amazing martial artist, which is the main reason to watch this film, Fonda is quite good in what is her second to last theatrical film performance before retiring from acting. This movie made me miss her. Fonda was never Meryl Steep, but she was always very likable and genuine in her films, whether it was a silly action flick like "Point of No Return," a rom-com like "It Could Happen to You," or an indie like "Scandal," she was always good. Besides Fonda, you also have the reliably good Ric Young as the slimy drug lord and Burt "Cato from The Pink Panther" Kwouk in a small role. As with most Besson productions, this is slickly made if empty headed entertainment, but Li (with aid from Corey Yuen) and a good performance by Fonda, manage to elevate this above Besson's usual output.
Kiss of the Dragon (2001): Dir: Chris Nahon / Cast: Jet Li, Bridget Fonda, Tcheky Karyo, Max Ryan, Ric Young: Action film that uses violence to justify crime. Title regards a poisonous dart that Jet Li uses on attackers to paralyze and kill them. While undercover in Paris he witnesses a murder that he is framed for. His only alibi is a prostitute who is forced to take drugs and forbidden to see her daughter. Li takes pity on her and mops up the floor with dozens of faceless villains leading to a disgusting climax. Director Chris Nahon is basically filming a series of stupid fights that he could have gotten cheaper at a bar on drunk night. Li is there to fight and kick the living hell out of as many bad guys as possible. Perhaps he is going for the world record of most idiots beat up within the shortest time frame. Bridget Fonda is there to sink her career. It is obvious that she is attempting to distinguish herself from her acting family, which is fine, but this is not the film to do it and neither was Lake Placid or Monkey Bone. Tcheky Karyo plays the boring crooked investigator villain whose defeat isn't as satisfying as we are suppose to believe. Other roles are about as broad as any household appliances that get destroyed throughout this mindless junk. It is just justified revenge just for the thrill of exploiting violence. This film should be sliced and diced with a butcher knife. Score: 1 / 10
Liu Jian (Jet Li) is a Chinese secret agent arriving in Paris to take down a Chinese drug lord. His French contact is vice squad leader Inspector Richard (Tchéky Karyo). Only Richard is dirty and tries to frame him for the drug lord's killing. Jessica Kamen (Bridget Fonda) is an American farm girl forced into prostitution by Richard. He's holding her daughter in an orphanage. Liu Jian managed to grab the video tape showing Richard shooting the drug lord with his confiscated gun. Then by chance, he runs into Jessica again.This is a Luc Besson production and it has a lot of his touches. Bridget Fonda is back and they even use the laundry chute. It's got some fun Besson-like action. It helps a lot to have Jet Li fighting. The acupuncture needles are a little bit much. The fight in the office with the Twins is amazing. Tchéky Karyo is great at being the villain. The biggest problem I have is the big coincidence. It's beyond ridiculous and rings such a false note. With such a big city, she's hooking right in front of the store.
I'm about to do something I've never done. I'm going to "review" this film after having turned if off about 15 minutes in.You don't have to ignore this review; just read it while keeping in mind the caveat that I turned "Kiss of the Dragon" off, 15 minutes in.It's simple really: 15 minutes in, I had no idea where the flick was headed. Now, the usual retort is to point out that a lot of flicks do that: They defer spelling out the underlying key plot points quite a ways into the flick. So why do I refuse to cut KotD the kind of slack that is due to a slow-burn sizzler storyline?Because KotD doesn't sizzle. In fact, one gets the sense that Besson is fully aware of the need to create tension of one kind or another in order to sustain things while the viewer gathers the data which will eventually pay off in a stunner revelation. But the data stream is... well, I was about to say bizarre... but bizarre is good! In fact, it might be a good idea at this point to mention his La Femme Nikita (the film). It sustains for a good, long while until the data is gathered because the leading action is bizarre *enough*. There's an amazing firehose of bizarrerie that keeps you alert and pondering, until the air clears and all the necessary pieces fall into place; well, at least, enough of the pieces to apprise you of the fact that you're watching an actual story.KotD opens with an unsatisfying, disconnected cubistic salad of cloak/daggerish visual and verbal cues, gangster scenarios, a hookers/john sequence that floats in an utter void, and a weird, utterly inexplicable 180 degree turnabout in the relationship between the crime boss and the new recruit--10 minutes into their relationship--which can't even be explained away as a spurious psychopathic lark on the part of the crime boss, let alone as a natural concomitant of the recruit's actions.I suppose that, if I'd hung with it, I'd've been able to metabolize that salad in some fashion. But, 15 minutes in, my question to myself was, "Why bother?"In the stuff I describe above, I don't mention Jet Li's lovely martial arts moves. And I left them out for a reason; because I wanted to preserve them from the disreputable notion that Besson thought they'd suffice to keep the viewer's attention.I think reviewing the first 15 minutes of this flick was worth doing-- there was so much to say!--so I did it. I hope you understand.