Kiss of the Dragon [2001]

Let's face it: No one is usually checking a Jet Li movie for the verbal sparring. In Kiss of the Dragon, Chinese undercover agent Li chops his way through Paris after he's framed in some sketchily defined drug sting operation. The fight sequences are tough and quite brutal, and the over-the-top finale is arguably worth the price of admission, wherein an implacable Li takes on the entire Paris Police Bureau, working his way up toward police chief Tchéky Karyo's office through cops, a pair of peroxide-blond twin henchmen, and a whole class of kung fu cadets. Co-screenwriter Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita) should know by now what makes for a nifty genre piece, but the woeful dialogue is a shame, and there aren't nearly enough action sequences to get your blood boiling. Poor Bridget Fonda gives it the old school try in a thankless role as an ex-junkie prostitute from the Midwest whose young daughter is being held captive by duplicitous police chief/drug lord/pimp Karyo (who fairly inhales the scenery). Director Chris Nolan might have pushed further the strangers-in-a-strange-land camaraderie between Li and Fonda, but the script still would've sunk him. --Steve Wiecking

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