2003-03-06 / Arts & Entertainment

Feet And Fists Fly In "Cradle 2 The Grave" Action Flick

Associated Press Writer
By Sheila Norman-Culp

Feet And Fists Fly In "Cradle 2 The Grave" Action Flick


DMX and Gabrielle Union co-star in the action thriller, “Cradle 2 The Grave.” 						   ©Warner BrothersDMX and Gabrielle Union co-star in the action thriller, “Cradle 2 The Grave.” ©Warner Brothers

By Sheila Norman-Culp

Associated Press Writer

East meets West, hip-hop hangs with kung fu, and the feet and the fists are flying as Jet Li and DMX team up in the high-octane thriller "Cradle 2 The Grave."

Su, a Taiwanese government agent, and Tony Fait, the mastermind of a diamond heist, prove that ``the enemy of my enemy’’ does not have to be a friend _ but sure can be a partner who comes in handy.

Both are after the chiseled, chilling Ling (Mark Dacascos), an international arms dealer who doesn’t care if the world blows up as long as he is paid for his mysterious ``black diamonds.’’

Trouble is, Fait has stolen the diamonds from a high-security vault and already fenced them. Now he has to get them back _ for Ling has kidnapped his young daughter. Su knows Ling all too well _ and may be the only hope Fait has of seeing the plucky Vanessa again.

But who goes to a Jet Li movie for the plot? And if the audience craves slick, fast-paced action and original, death-defying stunts, well, director Andrzej Bartkowiak (who earlier directed "Romeo Must Die" starring Li, "Exit Wounds" with DMX and was in charge of photography for "Lethal Weapon IV" and "Speed" among many other films) is only too happy to oblige.

The astonishing opening sequence, where Li simply drops from balcony to balcony in a high-rise building, should come with a "Jackass"-like disclaimer: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.

For his part, DMX takes the favorite toy of country kids nationwide, a souped-up all-terrain vehicle, and careens from rooftop to rooftop in a very urban landscape. The screaming yellow ATV adds much needed spice to the traditional police chase and car wreck scenes.

Too bad the dialogue doesn’t always have the punch of action scenes. While Li, with his stoic reserve, has a few good lines — "I’m not Bruce" he reminds one opponent — the muscled, charismatic DMX and the ruthless Dacascos are stuck with clunkers.

"It’s my little girl," DMX says woefully, begging for help from another crime lord.

"Make another one," is the caustic reply.

The fast-talking Anthony Anderson (most recently seen in "Kangaroo Jack" and "Barbershop") shows why he’s one of the funniest young actors in Hollywood today _ as he (reluctantly) flirts with a gay security guard during the diamond heist. And Tom Arnold mines his traditional shtick while fencing Fait’s stolen loot, but he tosses out so many one-liners that only one-in-five comes up a winner.

The movie’s sex appeal falls to martial arts expert Kelly Hu and Gabrielle Union, star of "Bring it On" and "Deliver Us From Eva."

Hu is mostly underutilized, while Union displays a smoldering chemistry with DMX.

Not only did he star in the movie, DMX also wrote and recorded three songs for it and collaborated with Eminem on the film’s slick opening track. His fans will not be disappointed.

And after all that nonstop action, make sure to stick around while the credits roll. Arnold and Anderson’s characters engage in a sidesplitting comic riff on how important they were to recovering the diamonds and who should play them in the movie that is sure to follow.

Mel and Denzel, screen your calls.

"Cradle 2 The Grave," is rated R for violence, language and some sexual content. Running time: 102 minutes.


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