out of Five
Running time: 100
Alright if you like this sort of thing but very silly nonetheless – still, it packs in enough fights, explosions, wisecracks and Sexy Ladies to satisfy its target audience of teenage boys.
If you saw either of director Andrzej Bartokowiak’s previous action films (Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds) then you’ll pretty much know what to expect from his latest movie as he’s reunited most of the casts of both films, thrown in another action star for good measure (Dacascos from The Brotherhood of the Wolf) and sprinkled lightly with two Very Attractive Ladies (Gabrielle Union and Kelly Hu). The result is a predictable, undemanding Friday night action flick that will presumably be lapped up eagerly by its target audience.
Numerous Skilled Thieves And A Taiwanese Intelligence Officer
Rapper-turned-action star DMX (Exit Wounds, small part in Romeo Must Die) stars as Fait (Fait / Fate, geddit?), the leader of a skilled gang of thieves that includes Gabrielle Union (from Bring It On) and Anthony
Anderson (the fat, funny one from Me, Myself & Irene, as well as both Exit Wounds and Romeo Must Die) and occasionally employs Tom Arnold (Exit Wounds) as a purveyor of…er…tanks (for those less subtle robbery occasions).
The plot involves the kidnapping of DMX’s little girl, who is then ransomed in exchange for priceless diamonds that have something to do with Weapons Of Mass Destruction or something.
So DMX and his Band Of Happy Thieves team up with Taiwanese Intelligence Officer (and man of few words) Jet Li - playing a Man Named Su - in order to take down a group of really evil villains, including Mark Dacascos and The Lovely Kelly Hu (from The Scorpion King), who, frankly, isn’t in it nearly enough.
Stunts, Foolish Stunts And Kung-Fu
What more do you need to know? There’s a race against the clock, stuff gets blown up, DMX does a few stunts on an all-terrain vehicle which, to be honest, looks more silly than cool and there are lots of fights along the way. Having said that, you pretty much spend the entire film waiting for Li to fight Dacascos and when he does, it's a little disappointing.
Some of the deliberately “sexy” scenes involving Union are badly handled and a bit embarrassing (you may well feel as if someone’s forced you to attend a strip show), though there’s a nice reversal when a security guard who needs to be distracted turns out to be gay, so Anderson has to chat him up instead.
In fact, as Anderson has proved throughout his career (See Spot Run, Me, Myself & Irene), he can get laughs in pretty much anything, no matter how awful and Cradle 2 The Grave is no exception. The combination of him and Tom Arnold ensures a steady stream of decent wisecracks that drag the film into just-about-watchable territory.
In short, there have been and will be worse films than Cradle 2 The Grave this year. It’s entirely possible that some of them will also star Jet Li. However, for a low-grade Friday night action flick, Cradle 2 The Grave is just about watchable and its target audience of teenagers probably won’t be disappointed.