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Liu Jian, a police officer from China, comes to Paris to help the vice squad apprehend a Chinese drug lord and his unknown French connection. The French connection is Richard, the head of the vice squad, who intends to kill the drug lord then frame Jian. Jian ducks a bullet and escapes with a tape of what really happened. By chance, Jian turns to Jessica - a US farm girl who is one of Richard's hookers - for help. She has her own problems, including the fact that Richard has her daughter locked in an orphanage to keep Jessica on the streets and silent about his activities. Can Jian protect Jessica, rescue her daughter, and give Richard the kiss of the dragon? Written by
The number plate of the taxi Jet Li is in during the opening titles is 5080TAG4 - sabotage, a taste of what's to come. See more »
The apple on the laptop is upside down because that's how they were designed at the time; the apple would then be right side up when the computer is closed. If you look at the computer you see that it is in fact open and the latch is at the top where it should be. See more »
For this kind of movie, this is good stuff. *** (out of four)
KISS OF THE DRAGON / (2001) *** (out of four)
By Blake French:
I admire "Kiss of the Dragon" because it's a wake-up call to the increasingly desperate genre of martial arts action movies. After disasters like "Romeo Must Die" and any recent Jackie Chan production, my expectations for "Kiss of the Dragon" were not exactly sky high. It seems as if every movie like this replaces a story and characters with silly special effects and high-tech action sequences involving martial arts fighting. Here, there are solid, visible characters and an involving story. That's a real accomplishment these days.
Jet Li starred in 25 successful Asian films before making his debut in America as the villain in the lackluster "Lethal Weapon 4." His last film, "Romeo Must Die," was a pitiful action extravaganza that borrowed elements from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." Before this film, I could not stand this martial artist turned actor. Here, he makes a strong name for himself. He co-produces the film, stars in it, and created the original story. According the production notes, Li initially envisioned a dramatic film that combined his trademark martial arts and action heroics with strong, recognizable characters.
"I wasn't interested in making a movie about a big action hero who saves the day," explains Li. "My character, Liu Jiuan, is one of China's best agents, with tremendous abilities in martial arts and acupuncture. He's determined and driven. But he's not a superman; he's human. When his mission goes wrong, Liu initially doesn't know how to handle things."
Liu Jiuan is the most skilled law enforcer in China brought to Paris on a top secret mission where he must assist an unorthodox police official named Richard (Tcheky Karyo) in dealings involving some off the record drug traffic. His mission goes awry and he quickly learns that Richard, who seemingly has a limitless supply of henchmen, is the villainous mastermind behind most of the crime in France. Liu becomes trapped in a dangerous conspiracy-Richard frames him for a murder he tried to stop. Liu also becomes involved with a local American woman named Jessica (Bridget Fonda), who was forced into prostitution when Richard kidnapped her child.
The story feels real, instead of a clothesline for countless gratuitous action sequences. There are plenty of action sequences, however, and the fighting does not involve wires, phony stunts, or computer generated effects like in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," and "The Matrix." The fights are grounded and real. "We went back to the basics," explains Jet Li, "keeping the fighting simple and based more in reality." Liu's principle fighting weapons are not guns or swords, but acupuncture needles, which play an important role in the mysterious "kiss of the dragon" revealed at the movie's climax.
"Kiss of the Dragon" is directed by French commercial director Chris Nohan in his feature film debut. He does a good job of involving the audience in the action, and distracting us from some of the film's weaknesses. But no director could conceal some of the bad writing, terrible dialogue, unanswered questions, plausible motives, and stereotypical character traits. "Kiss of the Dragon" is not a great movie, but for Jet Li, this is good stuff nonetheless.
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