Review of Cradle 2 the Grave;
Andrzej Bartkowiak directs the third in his “bling bling” kung fu movie in which American rapper DMX and his motley crew rob some diamonds from a bank (or something), specifically black diamonds which his team are stealing to order for Mark Dacascos “professional” team.
During the robbery, DMX explains to his team the value of the coloured diamonds. This is a plot point, but this is ignored, as is most of the other stuff in the movie.
Jet Li, in a muted and frankly uninspiring role, plays a silent Taiwan spy sent to retrieve the black diamonds, although from the start you don’t know whether he’s on the good side or not because he’s often seen talking to Dacascos. I thought this was pretty clever, but this idea is never really developed – this is because Li hardly ever speaks or emotes anything. He just looks weather-beaten and bored. I feel sorry for him as an actor. Anyway, back to my review.
DMX is one of the “heroes” of the movies, despite being a high-tech diamond robber. Unfortuently I wasn’t sure whether I should cheer for his character or not. He’s meant to be a bad guy, but is touted throughout the film as just doing the job to get by… that might be so, but if he’s struggling to get by why is he driving an expensive German sports car and wearing flashy leather clothes?
DMX’s daughter is kidnapped, and this is where the film falls apart and tries too hard to be a “hard-nosed” action movie, but I kept saying “oh come on” right throughout the movie. One example is the chase between DMX’s porshce and a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Another example is when Jet Li decides to scale down a high-rise building by going around the outside and using his hands to hold onto the ledges and then falling onto the next level. This film moves so much inbetween reality and wire-fu it makes the film utterly ridiculous. Especially when DMX starts doing wire-fu, beating up Jet Li or running up walls to escape dogs.
Anyway, DMX’s team decide to take the black diamonds to an annoying Tom Arnold (who has Tanks in his backyard) to get them valued. DMX gives Arnold ALL of the diamonds! Earlier in the film we saw DMX professing some knowledge of the value of coloured diamonds, and one would assume that the black diamonds are the most precious – so why did DMX give Arnold ALL of the diamonds? From that moment on I knew this movie was pointless. Arnold then goes to lose all the diamonds…
Mark’s team is meant to be a professional team yet make so many mistakes its hilarious. When they kidnap DMX’s daughter they don’t tie her up or blindfold her until later on in the movie. The team always bitches against each other, especially the guy who likes to think he’s the reincarnation of “J. Robert Oppenheimer” (the father of the atomic bomb who famously said “I have become death, destroyer of worlds”).
DMX’s daughter is not scared at all by the big scary guys with sub-machine guns and tries on many occasions to escape – in one hilarious sequence she drives a van with blacked out windows – and yet Mark and his team don’t do anything other than tie her up. They should have put her in a cell.
Anyhow, other random stuff happens – DMX gets chased by cops whilst he’s on a quadbike and Jet Li fights UFC fighters in a cage – but this is where you can see Andrzej Bartkowiak ideas for a hard nosed action movie fall apart… he cuts back and forth from the UFC fight and to the DMX chase. This really annoyed me, and made the film even more messier.
By the end we’re treated to an auction of the black diamonds and an all out action sequence begins with a shoot-out between a Tank and a guy with some sort of twin mounted machine gun. Naturally the tank wins but the damage it does is very minor.
Anyhow, Mark tries to escape via a helicopter and Bartkowiak who must have watched too many episodes of the A-Team decides to blow up the helicopter – but Mark stumbles out of the wreckage without a scratch..
Then, Bartkowiak treats us to yet another one of his clichd “ring of fire” fights – I’ve seen this idea done so many times and its never, ever worked. Bartkowiak makes it worse by cutting from the much anticipated fight between Mark and Jet Li to the numerous fights that are meant to be going on at the same time.
The fight between Mark and Li isn’t very special and is ruined by poor lighting, the rain and the horrible cutting from one fight sequence to another – it reminded me of “The Phantom Menance” where it moved from one sequence to another and it totally ruined the very good ending. This is very similar.
In the end the cops arrive, but for some reason decide not to arrest DMX for stealing the diamonds or Tom Arnold for possessing a Tank. Heck they don’t even question Jet Li of why he’s spying in United States.
But its all okay, we’ve been watching “crade 2 the grave” and none of it matters. All I learnt from this movie is that all that matters in the world is ‘bling bling’ — all style and no substance.