Retro Review: Kiss of the Dragon

Bone-crunching action, razor-sharp quickness and lethal execution are just some of the terms associated with elite action star Jet Li. This Dragon does bring the fire.

Li stars as Liu Jian, a Chinese government agent who comes to Paris to help a French Official (Tcheky Karyo) on a secret mission. When the mission goes awry, Liu ends up in an epic struggle to clear his name and help a witness (Bridget Fonda) who could hold the key to his innocence.

When I began watching “Kiss of the Dragon” I was scared that this would be another “Replacement Killers”, which starred Chow Yun Fat and Mira Sorvino, as Hollywood tried to melding a struggling starlet with a Hong Kong action star. I also had that awful Jean Claude Van Damme film “Maximum Risk” on my mind where Hollywood tried to set a Hong Kong action film in Europe.

As soon as the action began and the betrayal occurred I quickly learned that my fears were wrong. Li’s amazing precision and ability to shock you with action was stunning. He trashes a hotel and a dozen foes without messing up his hair. Just his ice-cold glare and menacing presence is all he needs. This guy is basically an Asian James Bond in this flick. He is just so cool.

Li’s acting has gotten slightly better since “Romeo Must Die” and his dialogue cropped. His character being a loner, self-absorbed and only dedicated to his work helped with Li’s acting style. I loved seeing the always cool Jet Li doing those hilarious and candid scenes with Fonda’s burnt-out hooker. All his acting there was genuine and we do get to see a man beneath this “lethal weapon”. Their clashing and humor was quite a delight as cultures clashed and Li was caught off guard.

The action sequences will blow your mind especially the long drawn out finale. I could watch those fights in the end over and over. Utterly awesome. All the elements of what Jet Li fans want are definitely here.

My only problem with the film was some of the plot scenes dragged. They were scattered throughout the film. Some of these plot elements were a bit contrived and were often quite slow. Maybe 2-3 more action sequences would have propelled the film into another realm. The lagging scenes carried the drama but were the necessary.

Jet Li is here to stay and his fans will love this entry.

3.5 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

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