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Friday, Nov 16, 2001

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Kiss of the Dragon

LET'S GET this clear ... ``Kiss of the Dragon'' is a regular Kung-fu movie with all the ingredients that go along with such a movie - one good guy, Jet Li as Liu Jiuan, fighting incredible odds against a bunch of bad guys led by Tcheky Karyo as Jean-Pierre Richard. Even the title has the mandatory ``Dragon'' to ensure that you do not mistake it for anything else. As in all such movies, the good guy, after a few setbacks which are essentially opportunities to fight, eventually prevails. The presence of a woman, in this case Bridget Fonda, is for purely time filling purposes.

In the movie, Jet Li plays the role of a top Chinese operative on a mission in Paris so sensitive that the details are unclear to him (or us, for that matter). The movie spends minimal effort in building the story and is in a hurry getting to the crux - the fighting. Possibly, the only redeeming feature about the movie is Jet Li and his acrobatic moves, as long as his lines are kept to five words or less. ...and that he does for most part. From the rapid transition from one fight scene to the next, interspersed with very little else, it appears that the director, Chris Nahon, is smart enough to realise that he has very little to work with in the story. Anyway, a few clues lead Jet Li to Richard, the criminal master mind masquerading as the top French crime fighter. Richard runs a vast conspiracy, into which Li is sucked in and implicated. Richard then uses his position in law enforcement to have Li chased all over Paris, giving him multiple opportunities to showcase his fighting skills. During the fights, Richard and his henchmen shoot all over the place, kill several bystanders and wreck buildings with nothing but a little whining from his superiors that is easily brushed aside by Richard.

Bridget Fonda is an American woman forced into prostitution. Richard ensures that she continues in this profession by holding her child as collateral. Why it should be so remains a mystery and the director probably realises that it would be a mistake to spend too much time telling a story as that would take time off from the fighting. The end is predictable enough with the eventual defeat of the villain and an explanation of what ``Kiss of the Dragon'' means. All in all, if you like watching kung-fu movies and all that action, and felling down of human beings you will probably enjoy this movie. If not, don't torture yourself. If you do decide to go for this movie, don't take your children with you.

CHITRA MAHESH

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