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Beijing detective Liu Jian (Jet Li) is sent to Paris to assist in a drug smuggling case. Double-crossed by the corrupt Inspector Jean-Pierre Richard (Tchéky Karyo) and framed for murder, Liu becomes a fugitive. In the attempt to clear his name and expose Richard, Liu is helped by Richard's prostitute girlfriend Jessica (Bridget Fonda) whose daughter is being held captive by the crazed Richard. 

Review by Louise Keller:
Set on the stunning backdrop of Paris, The Kiss of the Dragon is non stop, classy martial arts action with Jet Li at his fabulous best. Luc Besson has stamped his mark on the project that emanates from a story by Li himself. The story is entertaining enough, but it's essentially the execution and performances that make this a stand out. Using Paris not only as a backdrop but also as a key character is effective and unsettling, juxtapositioning the action with the solid history of the world's greatest landmarks. The scene in which the lobby of an elegant Paris hotel is destroyed is devastating, while the confrontation on the famous Bateaux Mouches cruising the Seine, the Eiffel Tower majestically looming behind, is a spectacle you will never forget. The stunts are highly imaginative and there is barely time to take breath. Craig Armstrong's divinely eclectic score never lets up, compounding the anticipation and thrills. 

Li is superb: beyond his extraordinary martial arts skills, he projects a complex character whose 'best of the best' expertise in his field does not extend to handling women. Bridget Fonda's prostitute junkie Jessica is heartbreakingly credible, while Tchéky Karyo's villainous cop, Richard, is easy to loathe. Richard is surrounded by a team of massive thugs with pecs bigger than the Arc de Triomphe, mon dieu! There's plenty of violence, and I must admit I did look away a couple of times as necks cracked and some bad ‘uns came to a rather gruesome end. But there's a good balance of action, drama, psychology and humour. The significance of the beguiling title isn't revealed until the end, when the acupuncture needles Li carries in a bracelet around his wrist reveal their true impact. Pulsating and compelling action Jet Li-style in Paris – what more could you want!

On the DVD, there’s also an impressive selection of special features from audio commentary with a conversation between Jet Li, Bridget Fonda and director Chris Nahon. We hear how the film came into being, following a meeting between Li and Luc Besson, who talked about the possibility of making an action film set in Paris. I had to smile when Li laughs and says he probably won’t be welcome to return to Paris. I still marvel at how the foyer of the beautiful Paris hotel is totally destroyed in one of the action scenes. There’s a run-of-the-mill behind the scenes featurette, when we briefly meet the stars. We know that Jet Li does his own stunts, but perhaps we did not know that he began learning martial arts at the age of 8. 

It’s interesting to see the laundry chute action scene – first in storyboard form (with music score and sound), followed by split scene and of course the final live action from the film itself. In the Jet Li Fight Philosophy feature, the focus is on Li himself, who would have us believe he is just an ordinary guy. He plays a lot of heroes, he says, yet he isn’t one. Fonda reinforces how fast Li is and how he is ‘the real deal’ – cute but lethal. Through a translator, action director Cory Yuen talks about his background and how he became a film coach for the martial arts. I was fascinated to watch the two demos showing how the police gymnasium action scene is blocked, and first slowly in rehearsal on mats, and then to see the final version in the film. The picture is sharp and if you have surround sound, turn up the dial to get the best effect. You’ll be transported.

Published September 26, 2002

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CAST: Jet Li, Bridget Fonda, Tchéky Karyo, Laurence Ashley

DIRECTOR: Chris Nahon

RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary by Chris Nahon, Jet Li and Bridget Fonda; 'Making Of' Featurette; 'Corey Yuen Academy' Featurette; The Jet Li Fight Philosophy; Police Gymnasium Fight: Martial Arts Demo; Storyboard Sequence: The Orphanage; Multi Angle Sequence: The Laundry Shute; On The Set Action; Action Images Video Montage; Theatrical Trailer And Six TV Spots

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: August 14, 2002

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