Kiss Of The Dragon (2001), Cert 18.

Director - Chris Nahon.

Writer - Jet Li, Luc Besson.

Starring - Jet Li, Bridget Fonda & Tcheky Karyo.


Premise - Top Chinese cop (try saying that after 6 pints!) Liu Jian (Jet Li) is sent to Paris to help the local police on a case. When he is framed by local corrupt cop Richard (Tcheky Karyo), Liu escapes to the Paris underground and befriends hooker Jessica (Bridget Fonda) as he tries to clear his name.

Kiss Of The Dragon was a bit of a let down for me. After 'The One' (which was released later, but I saw it first. Does that make sense?), which saw Li kicking ass in an above average, chop suey drenched, Matrix aping, sci-fi yarn, KOD is more of a traditional martial arts thriller. Unfortunately KOD is too traditional for it's own good, it breaks little (if any) new ground and has many, glaring problems.

Biggest culprit is the films story. Story credits are handed out to both Jet Li and producer Luc (Leon & The Fifth Element) Besson. This can account for the story's martial arts aspect and the distinct Gaelic feel (the film is set in Paris after all). What it cannot account for however is the complete lack of any coherent plot development.

Liu goes to Paris, gets framed by Richard and uh, ............ that's about it as far as plot goes. At no point do we learn why Richard is a bad guy, we are just supposed to assume that he is just plain evil. His connections to the Chinese are never revealed and he suffers from Dr Evil-itis, as he likes to leave his hostages in easily escapable positions.

Liu and Jessica meet up thanks to an almost laughable coincidence and then continue to stumble through the film, occasionally having a chat and waiting on Richard's goons to turn up so that Liu can kick their ass.

It is then that we are treated to KOD's only saving grace. Jet Li is a consummate martial artist and can rival Jackie Chan for speed and inventiveness with his choreography, the sequences in KOD are no exception. Some of the action scenes are quite breathtaking in their scope and audacity. Li uses anything at hand to dispatch bad guys including one scene that features the unique use of a pool ball. Liu's main weapon however, is a bangle of acupuncture needles that he employs to paralyse his opponents. Li is lightning fast with them and some of these moments are very impressive. However, even the martial arts sequences bring cause for concern.

For one they are ridiculously few and far between, aside from the opening and ending scenes I can recall only two others. Secondly the sequences are very poorly edited, an irritating, stuttering style has been employed that totally removes the glorious flow of Li's manoeuvres. It's very irritating and spoils some excellent stunt work and choreography.

Acting wise the film is competent if nothing stunning. Li is a small man, but he oozes charisma and gives the impression of being very confident even when the odds are stacked overwhelmingly against him. Fonda is a non-event, she could have bothered not turning up as her whole shtick is the 'hooker with a heart of gold' part that we have seen a million times before. Karyo uses the exact same performance that he did for 1994's 'Bad Boys' complete with shouting and unreasonable bullying of his goons.

There really is little to recommend about KOD. Aside from some nice choreography and stunt work it really is a poor to average film. Luckily, Li bounced back quickly with the superior 'The One' to wipe this stain from his CV.


3/10 for Kiss Of The Dragon.

Poster Quote - Kiss of death more like.