Dorian's Movie Reviews
Is it worth seeing? Reviews are presented with no cynicism, no comparisons, no biased standards, no pretentiousness - every movie is reviewed on its individual entertainment value including technical presentation.
Catching a Chinese master criminal requires a master Chinese policeman, so Liu Jian (Jet Li), arrives in Paris to assist the French in catching their Chinese problem. You get the feeling right away that this is a setup. You become momentarily disarmed of that feeling, and then surprise... The action doesn't stop until the end of the movie as Liu tries to free himself from being framed for a crime he saw but didn't commit. A prostitute, Jessica (Bridget Fonda) could help free him, but she is ensnared in a trap by the same man who framed Liu, and the man has her child for leverage. Liu must help her first.
Kiss Of The Dragon doesn't pull punches when in comes to surprises. The settings are uniquely French, and the villains are bad. The Martial Arts scenes are well done, and well choreographed by Cory Yuen who choreographed action in Lethal Weapon IV and has various credits in over 30 other productions. The action was captured and well edited without the assistance of either slow-motion or wires. Liu also uses secret Chinese needles to good effect. Liu's opponents were "heightened" by the juxtaposition of Bridget Fonda standing taller than Liu, followed in other scenes by two blond giants who tower over him. And cinematography triumphantly leads us through a fog in a deadly battle in a Chinese restaurant.
Bridget Fonda was not imported for her prior action legacy (Point of No Return) - on the contrary she plays the girl next door, with a child, who has fallen into the wrong hands. She brings more reality based drama into the story. Jet Li, as Liu Jian, also brings some dramatic realism into the story in his role as the police agent on the lam - you can feel the fear as he hides in a strange land, and feel both his pain and reluctance to help a woman being abused. Police Commissioner Richard (Tcheky Karyo) is as mean and brutal as they come - a little over the top on characterization, but well played.
The sets stay away from dwelling on the clichéd French settings (they're given brief honorable presence) and give us new ones - for starters we get to run through the sewers of Paris instead of New York's or LA's. Most of us feel as out of place as Liu Jian in the story's settings, enhancing the story's characterization.
Some experienced talent pulled together a number of good elements to create this movie. The hand of multi-talented Jet Li is prominently displayed. Li was the originator of the story, the main actor, and one of the producers - not to mention the main performer in the fantastic Martial Arts scenes. This is the first feature film Chris Nahon has directed, and he is off to a good start. Writer Luc Besson's credits include action movies La Femme Nikita, The Professional, The Fifth Element, and Messenger: The Story Of Joan Of Arc. Writer Robert Mark Kamen's credits include action movies The Karate Kid series, Lethal Weapon 3, and The Fifth Element. There were some technical things in the story line that raised the eyebrow of credibility, such as, "It was very coincidental Jessica's parking herself in front of Liu's hiding place." But the movie stands on its merits as a fun action story in the mainstream of action thrillers with very few faults that bump you out of the story into reality.
I wavered over 3 or 4 spotlights - story technical problems VS good qualities - but its refreshing originality and uniqueness tipped the scale to 4 spotlights out of a possible 5 for the writing (characterization and plot for the action thriller genre), acting, cinematography, sets, film editing, special effects, and casting. It carries an R rating. Enjoy!
Note: No half spotlights are given.
My reviews are not based much on my personal taste, or any standard besides entertainment value. I try to be as objective as possible, keeping in mind that entertainment value is very subjective and individualized. If I'm not interested in a movie I usually don't go see it, so it doesn't get reviewed. Each character, and each position in the production company might be highlighted if the contribution affected the enjoyment of the story as either outstanding or dismal and I noticed it, keeping in mind that many contributions are singularly distinguished by their seamless integration with the story, not calling attention to themselves and thereby escaping attention.
- Dorian Scott Cole
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