Cradle 2 The Grave - Review
Martial Arts Cinema is a globally popular sub-genre of Action Movies. Jet Li is one of the most popular Martial Arts action stars who followed the steps of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. He was a big star in Asia way back the early 90's and received Hollywood recognition in the 2000’s. His role in Lethal Weapon 4 was good but it was violent and he had little screen time. Romeo Must Die was a Martial Arts flick that appealed more to younger audiences. In 2003, Jet Li starred in Cradle 2 The Grave, a movie that got people lining up in cinemas and debuted #1 at the North American box office.
The movie opened with Anthony Fait's (DMX) gang stealing black diamonds. This scene reminds you of Mission Impossible, a well planned break-in using cool gadgets, stunt work, and a bit of deception. Fait's team escaped and ran away with the black diamond. Things got rough when crime lord Yao Ling (Mark Dacascos) kidnapped Fait's daughter Vanessa and he wants the black diamond as ransom. What's the catch? The diamonds are no longer in Fait's hands; his friend Archie (Tom Arnold) who took care of the diamond was robbed. Su (Jet Li) and Fait have to save Vanessa and stop Yao Ling's auction of the black diamond; the black diamond will be used to build a terrorist weapon of mass destruction.
Two Climax Scenes as One
The best part of the movie is the climax scene in the middle of the film. The build up, Su and Archie enters an underground fight club to find the gangster who robbed the diamond. Su had to list as a fighter since guests were not allowed in the club. During the fight scene, 20 or more men attacked Jet Li in the ring but he just beat them up. Literally there were bodies flying everywhere, broken bones, splashing blood, the steel cage (surrounding the ring) falling to the audience, and a midget used as a martial arts weapon. These are just some of the highlights of this fight scene; watch it, it's awesome! The fact that these men are real life professional Mixed Martial artists made this sequence much more exciting.
While all this is happening, DMX was also in an action packed chase scene. The build up, Fait's gang had another break-in job inside a gangster club. The police caught Fait but manages to escape using an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) parked nearby. This led to a chase with police cars, 2 motorbikes, and the ATV. The big scene is Fait, using the ATV, jumping through the glass window of the building's 5th or 6th floor and landing safely on top of another building's roof top. To escape news choppers, Fait had to jump from one building after another using the ATV. The sequence looked amazing!
What made this scene special was it was 2 climax scenes joined as one. In the movie, viewers will see Jet Li in hand to hand combat then cuts to DMX in a car chase then cuts back to Jet's fight and so on. The entire sequence was well-edited and lasted 10 minutes. The background music is DMX's rap song X Gon' Give it to Ya, which made the scene much more entertaining .
Jet Li vs Mark Dacascos
Unfortunately, the movie's most awaited fight scene, Jet Li vs Mark Dacascos, is also the movie's biggest downside. Get this, Jet Li and Mark Dacascos fought inside a ring of fire. In Jet Li’s Romeo Must Die, the same thing happened; the last fight scene is also inside a ring of fire. The two films were just 3 years apart (Romeo Must Die in 2000, Cradle 2 The Grave in 2003). Couldn't they come up with something more original? In addition, action fans were expecting a mind-blowing fight sequence because Jet Li and Mark Dacascos; they showcased amazing Martial Arts talent in their past movies. In this movie, the fight scene is entertaining but it looks like something from a 90’s action movie. There was nothing new or impressive.
Cradle 2 the Grave was a breath of fresh air in a decade that exploited CGI. This movie did a great job combining Martial Arts Cinema with the mind blowing action sequences of Hollywood movies. However, the story is a bit shallow and the fight scene between Jet Li and Mark Dacascos had a very large room for improvement. Overall, it’s a fun Martial Arts flick recommended for Jet Li and action fans everywhere.
G-Jays Ratings: 70%