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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > Spy > Kiss Of The Dragon (Blu-ray)

Kiss Of The Dragon (Blu-ray)

 

Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: C     Film: C

 

 

You would think that after not getting to play Kato in The Green Hornet film that fell through years ago that having Jet Li play a secret agent would be an opportunity to hit a home run.  Leave it to producer (and sometimes pretentious director) Luc Besson to blow it.  Li plays a Chinese Spy who can handle himself well in Chris Nohan’s Kiss Of The Dragon (2001), but in a clichéd scenario, is farmed for murder and the chase beings.  The “girl” role is played by Bridget Fonda, who is above being wasted like this.  The frame & chase scenario is always an excuse not to write anything suspenseful or substantial.

 

Taking place in France, because Besson probably did not feel like traveling, it gives Li an exotic location to be in, but never works as a full film thanks to the inept Besson/Robert Mark Kamen screenplay.  It does not even always make France look good.  Out of the mostly unknown cast, the one surprise is Burt Kwouk (from some of the James Bond films and Kato in the Peter Sellers Pink Panther pictures) plays Uncle Tai, but even he cannot save the film.  The Bond films occasionally went to France as have a few others, though the best recent such film is John Frankenheimer’s Ronin (1997) which Fox will eventually issue on Blu-ray via MGM.  Unless you must have Jet Li, wait for that film instead.

 

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 MPEG-2 @ 18 MBPS digital High Definition image is good, but not great, shot in Super 35mm and just not that impressive.  It is in the typically clichéd mode of all Besson productions that mutate the color if not gut it out all the way.  Except when Li is in action, there are no truly memorable shots here.  As for the sound, Fox again uses DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio for the best sound playback, but this film is a few years old and not exactly a sonic masterpiece to begin with.  The reason to do this is to deliver the action as clearly as possible.  The film was a Dolby EX/DTS ES theatrical release, so that sound is there even if the package fails to note that.

 

Unfortunately, like most Li films, the sound mix is only good when he is action, though this is not the degenerate wreck that Unleashed was.  We looked at that in an HD-DVD/DVD Combo version and it turns out the sound there was worse than I first thought, with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 breakup at high levels like Warner’s early HD-DVDs (Phantom Of The Opera, The Last Samurai, Million Dollar Baby) now coming to Blu-ray as well.  The DVD side of that disc did not have this issue with its DTS signal and the DTS here outdoes all the soundtracks there by a hair.  Craig Armstrong’s score is nothing too memorable either, but this is just a better way to offer a soundtrack.

 

Extras are few and include an HD version of the original theatrical trailer and commentary with Nohan, Li and Fonda.  Overall, it is another film for Li fans only, along with being the typically solid sound/martial arts demo Blu-ray sure to be a curio.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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