[MOVIE REVIEW]Not hip and little hop, this ‘Cradle’ will fallTop five lessons learned from “Cradle 2 the Grave.”
Lesson 1. Never leave a stash of stolen diamonds with someone you can’t trust.
Lesson 2. If you’re being chased through a city’s downtown, you can escape the police using an all-terrain vehicle.
Lesson 3. If you plan on enforcing a no-gun rule, become a martial-arts master.
Lesson 4. Slick, action-packed scenes; a hot lead actress; a cool, hip-hop actor; a cool martial-arts actor and producer Joel Silver will not save a movie from bad dialogue, a bad script and no chemistry.
Lesson 5. A title makes more sense when it actually refers to something in the movie.
Andrzej Bartkowiak directs this hip-hop, kung fu fusion of a movie. But the alliance is, to be polite, an uneasy one. To be impolite, it’s horrid.
There’s more to the black culture than hip-hop. And there’s more to the Chinese culture than kung fu. Admittedly, DMX is more famous as a hip-hop star than an actor, and Jet Li has built his career on his fighting skills, but both have turned in memorable performances in the past. Both can do much better than “Cradle 2 the Grave.”
On one hand, it’s heartwarming to see a buddy movie starring two minorities ― DMX and Jet Li. The token Caucasian is the sidekick ― Tom Arnold. The funniest character is the chauffeur, Anthony Anderson, who flirts with a gay security guard to distract him from watching the security cameras.
“Cradle 2 the Grave,” an appropriate sounding title for a horror movie, starts off promisingly enough ― while Mr. Anderson keeps a guard occupied, a group of thieves led by DMX infiltrates a vault to get some priceless black diamonds.
The plot quickly deteriorates. The gang is betrayed. Mr. Li, who works for the Taiwanese government, comes after them. The diamonds get lost, DMX’s daughter is kidnapped, and Mr. Li and DMX join forces against Mr. Li’s former partner turned gangster, Ling (Mark Dacascos). It turns out the diamonds, from Taiwan, are part of a diabolic plot to blow up the world.
All the while, hip-hop music pounds in the background.
Mr. Li in motion can be a fluid vision. But cut his fighting scenes together with DMX’s and Gabrielle Union’s fighting scenes, and back again, and you end up with three awful fight scenes.
What was Mr. Bartkowiak thinking?
Perhaps he was thinking that mindless fun is good. Well, mindless fun can be good ― for example Keanu Reeves’s 1994 hit “Speed,” on which Mr. Bartkowiak served as cinematographer.
But in the hands of Mr. Bartkowiak, “Cradle 2 the Grave” feels like a slick, mindless movie, thrown together without regard for the actors or the content. Or the viewers.
by Joe Yong-hee