out of five
: 98 mins
Jet Li vehicle, which races impressively through Paris kicking ass
throughout its improbable journey.
Although set in Paris and produced by Luc Besson, all the characters in this martial arts/chase movie speak English. Not that you need worry even if they didn't. With lines like "France is a very nice country, once you get used to it", you know that dialogue isn't exactly going to be paramount.
Jet Li stars as a Chinese cop imported to catch an Oriental heroin smuggler, but before he can even say 'bonjour', he's on the lam after being set up by his corrupt French counterparts to take a murder rap.
Bullets and limbs fly all over Paris as the bad cops chase the good cop. Tagging along for the ride is a junkie hooker, played by Bridget Fonda in, yet another strange career move.
The story is little more than an excuse for a chase, and the flying feet of Jet Li, so it's wise not to question the many improbable occurrences that pop up along the way.
Once this is understood, it all becomes quite enjoyable. The fights are expertly staged and handsomely shot, as is the film throughout. Director Chris Nahon keeps his foot on the pedal and ensures there is never a moment for reflection, as in thinking 'surely someone should have called the police'.
The acting is more than serviceable for a film of this kind and,
importantly, ensures you care enough about the fate of the characters. Jet Li, while lacking the charisma of Bruce Lee or the humour of Jackie Chan, is nevertheless very watchable, even when in non-fight mode.
Bridget Fonda as the hooker is excellent, and succeeds in introducing certain pathos into all the mayhem. And what mayhem there is. A five-star hotel is soon crackling with the sound of crushed bones and body parts tumbling down the laundry chute. This is followed by an equally posh tourist boat getting trashed in glorious technicolour.
The real standouts, though, are saved for the last as our hero dispatches battalions of bad guys and classrooms of Kung Fu cops. The dreaded CRS (French riot police) take a real bashing, which must have gone down a treat with French audiences.
Finally, the super-bad guy gets his when he is 'kissed by the dragon' as the title has it. I won't reveal what such a smooch entails, suffice to say that it's slow, bloody and lovingly filmed in close-up. It's that kind of movie.