Kiss of the Dragon (2001)

Rating: C+

Dir: Chris Nahon
Star: Jet Li, Tchéky Karyo, Bridget Fonda, Burt Kwouk

Jet Li’s second Western starring role has him heading back east, albeit only as far as Paris, where Tchecky Karyo’s evil cop (I suspect Gary Oldman was unavailable) frames him for murder. Fortunately – and inevitably – there’s a video which can prove his innocence…and you know the rest. By Hong Kong standards, this is pretty brutal stuff, and the roughness is reminiscent of some Cat. III movies. One wonders whether it was Li or producer/co-writer Luc Besson who came up with a world in which all women are junkies, whores or in Bridget Fonda’s case, both.

Early fight scenes, choreographed by long-time director Corey Yuen, are annoyingly edited, with too many fast cuts ruining the flow. Li’s final assault on the police station is excellent, however – if, like the rest of the movie, wildly implausible: when Karyo gets the incriminating tape back, he doesn’t destroy it, but simply puts it in his desk! The lack of wirework is refreshing though, and it’s nice to see Burt Kwouk as Li’s Paris guardian. If nothing else, you can play “spot the bits nicked from Besson’s other films” – there’s a good drinking game in there, which might blur the edges of the holes in the plot slightly…