Cradle 2 the Grave Review
By Shawn McKenzie 02/28/2003
I wasn’t really expecting the new movie from director Andrzej Bartkowiak to be anything too good. After all, his first two movies, Romeo Must Die and Exit Wounds both didn’t do much for me. Maybe it’s just practice makes perfect for this cinematographer turned director, because his third movie, Cradle 2 the Grave, wasn’t too bad.
Tony Fait (DMX), along with his crew, Miles (Drag-On), Daria (Gabrielle Union), and Tommy (Anthony Anderson), have gone to detailed high-tech lengths to rob a vault of assorted jewels, including some rare black diamonds. Taiwanese Intelligence Officer Su (Jet Li) interrupts their plan temporarily, but they do manage to get away with the black diamonds. It seems to be for nothing, however, since their buyer, Christophe (Paolo Seganti), is now dead. Tony uses his backup plan by going to his fence, Archie (Tom Arnold), to see what the diamonds are worth. The wimpy Archie allows the diamonds to be stolen by criminals working for crime boss Ling (Mark Dacascos), including sidekick Sona (Kelly Hu), who then try to kill Tony, but end up kidnapping his 8-year-old daughter, Vanessa (Paige Hurd.) Tony swallows his pride and works with Su to figure out why the criminals wanted the diamonds so badly and where they are keeping his daughter. After a quick visit with the incarcerated but pampered crime boss, Chambers (Chi McBride), Su, Tony, and his team set out to rescue Vanessa and get back the diamonds, which seem to be more dangerous than they originally appeared to be.
The reason I liked this movie more than Romeo Must Die and Exit Wounds is because it is a little more well-rounded in many areas. While not Oscar-worthy or anything, the acting is slightly better here. Li has always been an awesome action star, but his acting has left something to be desired (at least in America so far.) I’ve always thought rappers were the musicians that made the best transition from music to acting, but it has been a little bit of a struggle for DMX. This is his fifth film (not counting the 2000 docu-concert film Backstage), and his performances have always been in a stale, barking style. What I mean is that he barks all his lines, yet still remains a wooden actor. In this movie, he shows a little more expression. That is possibly because he has a slightly more interesting character. The story in general is more interesting than the movies mentioned above. A memorable scene in this movie involves little ol’ Li taking on a whole cage of huge Ultimate Fighting Champions. Speaking of memorable, I know they were in Exit Wounds, but Arnold and Anderson are more unforgettable in this one (stick around during the closing credits to watch a hilarious exchange between the two.) Finally, Union is very sexy in this one, and I am liking her more and more with each movie. Oh, speaking of Union, the fight scenes involving her and other non-martial arts actors in this movie are very good (including DMX's fight scenes.) This is due to the expert choreography of Li and legendary martial arts director Corey Yuen.
Cradle 2 the Grave isn’t necessarily one of the best movies out there, but it is better than some. While the action is awesome, some of the acting leaves something to be desired. This movie could have been another awful Half Past Dead from last year, but it is surprisingly fun to watch. You wouldn’t go wrong if you and your buddies checked this one out at a matinee and then later went to another showing of Daredevil.
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