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Chris Nahon
Jet Li, Bridget Fonda, Tcheky Karyo
Screenplay: Luc Besson

A betrayed intelligence officer enlists the aid of a prostitute to prove his innocence from a deadly conspiracy while returning a favor to her.

Box Office:
Budget: $25 million.
Opening Weekend: $13,304,027 on 2025 screens.
Domestic Gross: $36,845,124.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 11/14/2006

• Audio Commentary With Director Chris Nahon and Actors Jet Li and Bridget Fonda
• Trailers


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Kiss of the Dragon [Blu-Ray] (2001)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 9, 2022)

After his US breakout performance in 1998ís Lethal Weapon 4, Jet Li appeared to be on the fast track for major success in the US. This never quite happened, and the mediocrity of 2001ís Kiss of the Dragon reminds us why.

Dragon follows the adventures of Chinese officer Liu Jian (Li) as he comes to France to cooperate on a case with the Parisian police, led by Inspector Richard (Karyo). However, they have other plans.

Instead of apprehending a suspect, they kill him and frame Liu. He escapes and conveniently grabs an incriminating videotape, and Richardís men try to find and eliminate Liu.

Most of the movie follows those attempts, and we also get involved with another witness to the event, junkie prostitute Jessica (Fonda). Richard holds her daughter and keeps her drugged to make her pliable. Through some unlikely circumstances, Jessica and Liu get to know each other and try to aid both their quests.

All of this seems pretty tired, as thereís nothing in the filmís story to make it stand out from the crowd. However, I donít really fault movies to a great degree just because of bland plots. Lots of flicks feature ordinary stories but work wonders with the material.

Unfortunately, Dragon doesnít fall into that category. For the most part, it just seems like yet another by-the-numbers action flick.

The French setting feels unusual, but director Chris Nahon really doesnít do much with it to make the locale unique or involving. In addition, he tends to ruin many of the fight sequences with excessive cutting.

As such, we have a Jet Li flick in which we rarely get a good sense for Liís talents. Instead, the film seems so choppy that anyone could have done much of the work.

For this kind of picture, itís important to get a feel for the performer and see many shots that linger for longer than, say, an eighth of a second. Nahon apparently thinks that the rapid cuts will increase the level of excitement.

Heís wrong. Instead, they dissipate a lot of the natural energy that otherwise could have occurred.

In addition, the film features some excessively gruesome sequences. I have no problem with gore when appropriate, but at times, it seems as though the movie offers blood simply for the sake of blood.

Actually, that may not be totally true, as I get the feeling that Nahon thinks graphic violence equals ďrealismĒ or ďgrittinessĒ, whereas thatís not the case. In this instance, it simply feels like an easy tool to provoke a response from the audience.

Possibly my biggest complaint about Dragon, however, stems from its poor use of Li. Though Iíve only seen a few of his flicks, his physical presence always impressed me.

Liís not much of an actor, at least not in the English-language offerings, as in these he comes across as quite flat and one-dimensional in scenes that donít require action. Nonetheless, his martial arts skills usually redeem his lack of talent as a thespian.

That doesnít occur during Dragon. To be sure, the action scenes become the most compelling ones in the movie, but thatís more of a reflection on the bland quality of the rest of it.

Nahon doesnít appear to know the best way to feature his star, which is why we find that awkward and choppy editing that badly mars the action sequences. As such, Li comes across poorly. After a viewing of Dragon, I found it hard to remember why Li made such a strong impression on me in earlier efforts.

On the positive side, Fonda offers a surprisingly rich and strong performance as Jessica. She seems to inhabit the role well, as she makes Jessica appear appropriately battered and bruised emotionally and physically. Fonda provides the one real piece of positive work in this otherwise muddled affair.

Unfortunately, itís not enough to redeem Kiss of the Dragon. The movie came and went quickly during its theatrical release, and for good reason - itís a bland, uninventive and thoroughly mediocre film.

Almost nothing about it stands out to me as particularly compelling, and I feel as if Iíd seen it all before - many, many times before, in fact.

The Disc Grades: Picture D+/ Audio B+ / Bonus C+

Kiss of the Dragon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Released in the formatís infancy, this became a problematic presentation.

Sharpness turned into a consistent concern. While close-ups offered reasonable clarity, anything wider seemed soft and mushy.

It didnít help that Dragon came with some noticeable edge haloes, as those added to the lack of definition. I saw no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, but sporadic specks and marks marred the presentation.

Colors learned toward the amber/yellow side of the street along with splashes of green, and the Blu-ray made them look bland. The hues never showed much life or vivacity.

Blacks were crushed and too heavy, and shadows seemed flat and dull. The film offered a decidedly weak image.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Kiss of the Dragon seemed much better, as the soundfield appeared fairly active throughout the film. The mix featured frequent use of all five channels, and it often came across as lively and engaging.

The effects received the best usage, as they displayed good activity from all sides. The elements blended together in a largely natural and smooth manner.

Audio quality seemed good. Dialogue appeared natural and warm, with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility.

Music was robust and distinct. The movie combined a variety of different musical genres, but all came across as clear and vibrant, and they showed nice depth when appropriate.

Effects also demonstrated solid accuracy. Those elements were clean and vivid, and they packed a good bass punch at times. Overall, the soundtrack for Kiss of the Dragon worked very well.

As we shift to extras, we get an audio commentary from director Chris Nahon and actors Jet Li and Bridget Fonda. Each of the three got recorded separately for this edited, periodically screen-specific track. While I donít think this becomes a great commentary, it offers enough interesting material to work.

Nahonís segments seem the least compelling. He tends to discuss technical aspects of the filmmaking process, and he doesnít offer much that appears unique or terribly fascinating.

On the other hand, Li provides some good anecdotes and gives us a different perspective on the process, while Fonda seems very solid as she features surprising insight into her character and acting in general.

Probably the biggest hurdle found in the commentary relates to the accents of Li and Nahon, which make the piece slightly rough sailing at times. However, that doesnít turn into a major concern, and overall, this commentary appears fairly interesting.

The disc also features trailers for Dragon, Behind Enemy Lines, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Phone Booth, The Transporter and Speed.

The Blu-ray drops a bunch of features from the DVD. It loses a few featurettes, storyboards, demos, TV spots and a still gallery. Many early Blu-rays omitted extras so this doesnít surprise me, but it disappoints.

As an action flick, Kiss of the Dragon seems flat and uninvolving. I canít call it genuinely bad, but it never threatened to become anything very exciting or entertaining. The Blu-ray brings very good audio along with an informative audio commentary and lousy picture quality. This becomes a flawed Blu-ray for a mediocre movie.

To rate this film visit the DVD review of KISS OF THE DRAGON

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