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This Hong Kong martial-arts extravaganza tells of evil emperors and true love. The secret Red Lotus Flower Society is committed to the overthrow of the evil Manchu Emperor and his minions. ... See full summary »
A young father and his infant son are beset by forces of evil and corruption. They wander China, upholding their sense of honor and protecting the weak. When they are forced into combat, ... See full summary »
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
Liu Jian (aka "Johnny") is a top level cop from Bejing on temporary assignment in Paris to aid French police in a sting operation to take down a Chinese heroine kingpin. But things go bad and a double-cross ensues, leaving Liu Jian framed for murder and running for his life. One is thing certain, though, our hero won't be taken without a fight... a really good fight... and a few more after that. Luc Besson's screenplay isn't exactly creative, but given the genre, it's pretty darn good. I know I sure sighed with relief that Liu Jian (played with subtle excellence by Jet Li) wasn't driven by some emotionally haunting past, like the death of a wife and child, as is so typical in super-cop action films. In fact, we get just the opposite--a man who simply loves his job and does it very well, but is still human enough to make mistakes, feel pain and make realistic choices (well, mostly).
The story isn't without its flaws, however. Mindless thugs do play their part and there is an utterance of the most over-used villain line of all time: "Bring him to me alive; I'll deal with him myself" (or something to that affect). But somehow, it doesn't sound quite so corny coming from actor Tcheky Karyo (as Inspector Jean-Pierre Richard), who manages to play the heartless villain with a great deal of intelligence. Rounding out the cast is Bridget Fonda's Jessica, the prostitute with a good heart and, yes, a young daughter in jeopardy. But despite its few formulaic shortcomings, Kiss of the Dragon still delivers.
What really stands out in this film is the way the fight sequences flow with the rest of the story, unlike so many other movies that seem to be constructed around a few preconceived action scenes. It's a martial arts action film done right. Thanks to the superb direction of Chris Nahon, Kiss of the Dragon is classy, well paced and gives us a near perfect blend of drama and levity (no ridiculous one-liners here, but definitely some laughs along the way). Best of all, Nahon engages the audience and makes the story work to a reasonable level of believability.
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