In KISS OF THE DRAGON, Jet Li could be called a lean, mean, fighting machine
were it not for his monk-like stoicism. Given his complete absence of
emotion, a more apt description would be to call him a lean, fighting
cipher. But, if it's merely violent action you crave, then Chris Nahon's
KISS OF THE DRAGON will not disappoint you, as the director seems to be
shooting for a DPS (Deaths Per Scene) rate somewhere in the single digits.
Although the movie is basically a Jet Li martial arts extravaganza, it does
have a supporting cast, including an overacting Tchéky Karyo as corrupt
French police officer Jean-Pierre Richard and Bridget Fonda, playing way
under her capabilities, as a prostitute named Jessica. "I'm stupid, but I'm
not that stupid," Fonda's character says at one point. Well, Fonda signed
up to do this bit of acting slumming, which was pretty stupid, especially
after her MONKEYBONE bomb.
Chinese policeman Liu Jian is in Paris to work with Richard. Referred to by
one of the Frenchman as "Mr. Statue," Liu can do some ferocious fighting
when he isn't staring blankly. In his best stunt, he kicks a billiard ball
out of the pocket and into the air. From there, he launches it like a
missile with his flying feet so that it kills his attacker with a massive
blow to the forehead. Typical of the level of violence in the story is a
gory scene in which Liu kills one victim by ramming two chopsticks through
his neck. Among Liu's more unusual skills is his ability to turn the
healing art of acupuncture into a heinous technique for death. Think of the
deadly efficient Jet Li as the exact opposite of the sweetly humorous Jackie
The movie's biggest surprise is that, even with three people working on the
script (Jet Li, Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen), they were unable to come
up with a plot. Then again, maybe they didn't want to constrain the action
sequences by having to adhere to some arbitrary storyline. Better to just
let Jet Li fight and stare. And fight again.
KISS OF THE DRAGON runs a long 1:38. It is rated R for strong violence,
language, some sexuality and drug content and would be acceptable for older
My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave the film ***, praising the high level of action
and complaining about the lack of a plot.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes