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Cradle 2 The Grave

ONE OF those loud, noisy, video game movies that you actually find yourself enjoying. Hip-hop and kung-fu fusion. Martial arts ace Jet Li and rapper DMX pair up to fight some baddies who have kidnapped a little girl. The explosions tire you but the action set pieces are state-of-the-art. And the chase sequences are edge-of-the-seat stuff. This is director Andrzej Bartkowiak's (he used to be a master cinematographer) follow up to that other Jet Li movie, "Romeo Must Die". Li is in pursuit of some strange looking black diamonds. He has come all the way from Taiwan in search of them.

He finds that the diamonds have been robbed by DMX — a master jewel thief — and his gang. Unknown to both of them, a gang of mysterious East Asian criminals led by Ling (played to the hilt by Mark Dacoscos from "Brotherhood of the Wolf") also want the diamonds. What are these mysterious diamonds and where has DMX's little girl disappeared?

The plot isn't the thing here, the action is. And it is relentless.

The standard Hollywood set pieces don't excite you as much as Jet Li's fighting. There's some comedy by way of two sidekicks fooling around but it only distracts from the action.

When one sees Jet Li in one of these contemporary blockbusters, one longs to see him in a period Chinese movie — where he really belongs. And that is not too far in coming. His "Hero" (also starring Margaret Cheung and Tony Leung) will soon hit the theatres here. Now, that is a martial arts movie.

PRADEEP SEBASTIAN

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