Kiss of the Dragon FILM review

Film / Video Reviews
Kiss of the Dragon FILM review
Jan 22, 2002, 18:48

KISS OF THE DRAGON directed by Chris Nahon, written by Luc Besson  and Robert Mark Kamen from a story by Jet Li, Sony, 2002

Anti-globalists have long warned of the dangers of a world without borders. Finally, they have their Exhibit A: Kiss of the Dragon.

This chop-socky is a multi-national monstrosity made up of the worst cliches in Hong Kong, French and American cinema. Set in Paris, it follows Liu Jiuan (Jet Li), a Chinese special agent who tries to bust a band of narco-traffickers. Instead, he finds himself the target of what seems like every thug, hoodlum and shady character in the Western world.

Then there's Paris' corrupt police force. Led by a chief (Tcheky Karyo) who talks like a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger, Boris Badenov and Inspector Clouseau, this police academy is not unlike that other “Police Academy.” Sure, they push dope, pimp hookers and revel in the sweet sounds of bones breaking. But when confronted by Li, they quickly turn into French crepes. The martial arts maniac kicks and punches the fillings out of 'em. It's fun to see, for about 10 minutes. But after Li flattens a crooked cop's face with a steaming iron—the highlight of the film—it's all downhill.

Rather than wallow in the mindless (but absurdly humorous) action, Kiss of the Dragon tries to expand the boundaries of the Hong Kong martial arts flick.

Someone should've turned down the visa requests.

The multinational production team injects a dose of American schmaltz into the story, via an abused and strung-out hooker named Jessica (Bridget Fonda). You see, Jessica is really an all-American girl who turns tricks to prevent the sadistic police chief (and former lover) from murdering her daughter. Unfortunately, her Oprah-like sob story turns the stiff-kicking Li into a softy (despite the fact that Fonda's acting couldn't convince a flea). He broadens his mission to include reuniting the happy hooker with her child, who is held in a dank, dreary orphanage. Sounds ridiculous? Seeing it on the screen is worse.

Kiss of the Dragon, directed by French commercial maker Chris Nahon, is a collage of stylish scenes and “chic” pomposity that looks better on Paris postcards than in films. At every turn, Nahon serves up yet another overcooked bouillabaisse of “French” style. This, after heaping bowls of Chinese and American junk food, is enough to make even the strongest of stomachs sick.

Erect the walls, enforce the borders—this is one case where the peoples of the world should remain divided.

-John Petkovic

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