Back in 2001, Jet Li was still trying to establish himself as a star in America. Kiss of the Dragon is Jet Li’s third movie outside of Hong Kong. Jet Li stars as Liu Jiuan, a Beijing cop who has traveled to Paris to aid in a police raid against a heroin smuggler. They cover the target but the mission goes horribly wrong. Liu finds out that the man he was supposed to help has betrayed and set him up to take the fall. Needless to say, Kiss of the Dragon is not a about a dragon who goes around kissing people.
Normally I’m all for kung-fu movies with million dollar budgets. The fight scenes on the most part were realistic. Jet Li shows us why he’s called one of the greatest action stars of our time. The only unrealistic complaint I had was when Liu taking on a whole room full of martial arts students, leaving all of them pounded to the floor but without a scratch on himself. This is ridiculous even for this genre of film.
There was a great deal of improvement for Jet Li in this movie, his English has improved a lot and his acting skills are much better. He looks good on camera and is able enough with his minimal dialogue. The real problem is that there isn’t a whole lot going on that we haven’t seen before. This straightforward narrative allows the martial arts master to concentrate on doing what he knows best, while minimizing the requirements for dialogue or demonstrating dramatic range. Credit is also due to the helping director and script co-writer, Luc Besson who in my opinion is the John Woo of French action cinema.
Kiss of the Dragon is a highly contrived, entirely action sequence-driven, summer action movie. And, it should be regarded as such. When all is said and done, Li has proven his mettle to everyone in Paris and beaten to a bloody pulp nearly half of the men there. In the end, we find out what “Kiss of the Dragon” means, and it’s a doozy. All in all, Kiss of the Dragon is a forgettable, but entertaining martial arts film.