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Cradle 2 the Grave
Click for full sized poster

Cradle 2 the Grave

Starring Jet Li and DMX
Screenplay by John O'Brien and Channing Gibson
Directed by Andrzek Bartkowiak

IN SHORT: Just OK action in a just OK script which means, for those that have missed the point, it's just OK. [Rated R for violence, language and some sexual content.]

From the "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" school of storytelling . . . we have Cradle 2 the Grave which teams archthief Tony Fait (DMX) with Taiwanese supercop Su Duncan (Jet Li) to take down an international bad guy of James Bondian proportions called Ling (Mark Dacascos) who just happened to have been Su's former partner at Taiwan Intelligence -- [deep breath] -- something like the CIA. Su is tracking a pouch of black stones, call 'em black diamonds if you'd like, which moves from the hands of one thief to another and brings Tom Arnold into the picture as the token white guy and comic relief. Su is tracking the diamonds for reasons involving the safety of the entire world that we won't spill. Fait, who had been hired to bust the impressively bust the diamonds out of a guarded safety deposit vault, has to recover said gems to save the life of his eight year old daughter, Vanessa (Paige Hurd).

Cradle 2 the Grave also marks the third teaming of director Andrzek Bartkowiak with DMX (previously Romeo Must Die and Exit Wounds) for a perfectly popcorn worthy actionflick laced with enough unnecessary cusswords that the R' rating (and the thrill that fifteen year olds get when they sneak into the theater showing it) is automatic.

As far as this genre of action movie goes, Jet Li may hate it when the words "Jackie Chan" appear in the same sentence with his name. We don't know. Chan smothers his action with comedy. Li is so serious you can cut it with a knife. Or shrivel up in your chair when the bad guys get serious bones snapped, as they do in this film. Then again, any film which opens with a rap song spraying at least a pair or three of George Carlin's famous words at its audience has already decided to alienate anyone old enough to find common usage offensive. Like us, which gets us off the point.

Once upon a time Jackie Chan ran down the side of a sheer high rise building. Li, in this film, takes advantages of apartment balconies and drops floor to floor, as he tracks those diamonds we mentioned above. It's a fine stunt, topped only by the one-handed fighting style Li has chosen for this film. We'll not describe the initial gem heist because it allows supporting characters Daria (Gabrielle Union) and Tommy (Anthony Anderson) room to strut their stuff and kick up the sex appeal and laughter quotients. We will say that, during the initial heist, the "diamonds" appear to be the target, yet Tony takes 'em to hi grade (if not high class) fence Archie (Tom Arnold) because he doesn't know exactly what they are. At least, that's how it played to us and that kind of setup doesn't make any sense. It's a moot point once the film kicks into its enemies must be friends motif, after Vanessa is snatched. We will admit that that kidlet character is a pip. No, she has no idea that her dad is a superthief but yes, he has taught her some nifty moves. Also stapled into the mix is teevee's Chi McBride as an imprisoned crimelord, useful in advancing the story.

Tom Arnold, of course, is his usual "look at me I'm adorable and untrustworthy as all hell" character and everything else here is similarly by the book. That's a great ticket if you're seventeen, give or take. It's a rental for those of us who aren't.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Cradle 2 the Grave, he would have paid . . .


Rent it. (unless you're seventeen, in which case the $5 dateflick level applies. We know when we're beat)

amazon com link Click to buy films by Andrzek Bartkowiak
Click to buy films starring Jet Li
Click to buy films starring DMX

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