A jewel thief's daughter is kidnapped after he steals a collection of prized black diamonds, which aren't at all what they seem.A jewel thief's daughter is kidnapped after he steals a collection of prized black diamonds, which aren't at all what they seem.A jewel thief's daughter is kidnapped after he steals a collection of prized black diamonds, which aren't at all what they seem.
I was in the UK watching a tape of the NBA All-Star game that someone had taped off US TV for a friend. Fast forwarding the adverts a movie trailer caught my eye - the trailer for this movie. Dacascos and Jet Li in a movie together! Gotta see that! I couldn't wait and was excited when I saw it coming to the UK sooner than I'd expected. So I went to see it, not expecting art but hoping for a good ride.
I was a little let down but not too much. The film has some good scenes that almost manage to hide the inherent weaknesses in script, plot, editing, direction, acting etc etc. Let me start with the plot. Now I didn't expect wonders and I didn't get them - however the film pushes things too far by making the film about a world threat - a leap of faith too far for me. The actual script is full of so many clunky lines you won't believe. Little of it sounds like people actually talking.
The main weakness were direction and editing. You see I can for Jet Li et al fighting and for action. However the fight scenes and actions scenes are edited together and directed with a frantic touch. I'd prefer to see Li at work than constantly trying to keep up with the camera switches. I can understand why they do this (many of the actors must have done their scenes one move at a time) but with Jet Li it loses much of his power to not be able to follow his moves. Some of the action works well and is exciting but too often it is just frantic direction and noise.
The cast are passable but none really excel themselves. Li is good but not fully used. He has yet to have a film that really showcases his skills. Here he has some good moves but the direction spoils them. DMX is a good rapper (I like his joints) but he can't act anywhere near well enough to manage the scenes with his `daughter' - they are awful! Outside of these he is OK but he has NO chemistry with Li. Also he doesn't convince as a ninja (!), when he runs up a wall 15 minutes into the film it just looks silly. Tom Arnold and Anderson are pretty poor as the comedy sidekicks and really just clutter the film with characters (more later). I didn't know Union was in this till I sat down, but she makes a mark. She may be shameless eye candy (I like to think I'm above these shameless crowd pleasers) but she is very hot eye candy! She does a dance in the film that is pretty pointless in terms of plot, but is worth the price of admission alone! Kelly Hu is not used well at all and her losing her cat fight towards the end is unlikely. The biggest let down for me was Mark Dacascos. I know the guy does a lot of tat but he is one of my favourite actors. I was looking forward to him and Li fighting at the end (both have skills) but again it was spoilt by bad direction and the editing of 5 other scenes in with it.
The soundtrack is heavy but it is really poorly used. The makers just seemed to drop hip hop tracks in at random with little context. The opening credits worked well and the use of DMX's `X gonna bring it to ya' really compliments the onscreen action, but mostly they just seemed thrown in to draw a certain demographic.
Overall I did enjoy this film. It has enough noise and dumb action to just about cover the weaknesses while you are watching it. However it is pretty exploitative and excessive. Did we need to have EVERYTHING blow up in the end - no. Did we need to Gabrielle Union sexily stripping - no (but it was worth it!). It's not original and it is banged up with clichés (ring of fire showdown), and it's is inherently weak. But lets be honest we came for action, and it is just about passable in that. Worth a watch if you keep your expectations low.
- bob the moo
- Apr 1, 2003