"Damsel in Distress"
What You Need To Know:
Jet Li’s character in KISS OF THE DRAGON is a man of honor, duty and morality. Eventually, Li’s character must help the prostitute get back her child, whom the evil Richard has hidden in an orphanage while he forces the mother to remain a drug-addicted prostitute. Li and Fonda breathe new life into this age-old story of saving a damsel in distress. Still, some of the violence and the opening sequence, where another prostitute seduces the drug kingpin, are too explicit. KISS OF THE DRAGON also includes some strong foul language.
(Pa, B, Co, LLL, VVV, SS, NN, A, DD, M) Pagan worldview with some moral elements about stopping corruption & helping a damsel & her child in distress, plus hero is an espionage, crime-fighting agent from Communist China & befriends an kindly, elderly compatriot who ran a safe house for Chinese agents for many years; 33 mostly strong obscenities, 2 strong profanities & 7 mild profanities such as an exclamatory “My God” plus woman vomits; strong action violence including many fistfights, grenade rips man in half, man burnt, corrupt policeman murders two people, much gunfire used against hero, bone-cracking martial arts fighting, destruction of property during violence, & hero uses acupuncture needles to paralyze his assailants; prostitution, white slave trade & man enjoys partying with a prostitute; rear female nudity & partial nudity; alcohol use; smoking, cocaine use shown in one scene & corrupt policemen involved in white slave trade force heroin use on one of their women; and, lying, police corruption, Communist espionage, & corrupt official frames innocent man.
One of the pleasures growing up in the late 1960s was watching James T. West of TV’s THE WILD, WILD WEST fending off a bunch of bad guys alone. Sometimes the bad guys would gang up on him, and he’d be able to fight off all of them, even though they were holding him down. This is what also appears to be happening in the current fascination for martial arts movies from Hong Kong and other parts of Asia. The hero in these movies often has to fight more than two or three people at a time, sometimes even a whole room full of people. An important message in all these TV shows and movies is that one man can make a difference, even though the odds seem to be terribly stacked against him.
In KISS OF THE DRAGON, actor Jet Li puts on a grand show of martial arts prowess against hordes of corrupt French policemen and other people. Li plays Liu Jiuan, China’s top government agent who arrived in Paris to carry out a sensitive, top-secret mission involving a Chinese drug kingpin. Liu is in Paris to assist Richard, an unorthodox police official with a small army. The mission goes terribly wrong because Richard is himself a murderous organized crime figure. This forces Liu to go on the run, with only an old man and one of Richard’s many victims, a prostitute, to help him.
Despite working for the Communist Chinese government, Jet Li’s character in KISS OF THE DRAGON is a highly professional man of honor, duty and morality. One may infer a pro-Chinese political message from the fact that the French policemen are corrupt, until one recalls that the French government is itself socialistic. Eventually, Li’s character must help the prostitute, Jessica, get back her child, whom the evil Richard has hidden away in an orphanage while he forces the mother to remain a drug-addicted prostitute. Liu risks his life to help Jessica, played by Bridget Fonda. She helps him get inside the police precinct from which Richard rules his corrupt kingdom. This makes for a classic struggle between good and evil, not to mention the old helping a damsel in distress story. Liu storms the villain’s castle to rescue Jessica’s little girl.
Li and Fonda breathe new life into this age-old story, helped along the way by some halfway decent character development. Both they and the script lend a little realism to what is essentially a fantastic and implausible, though exciting, story. Still, some of the violence and the opening sequence, where another prostitute seduces the drug kingpin, are too explicit. KISS OF THE DRAGON also includes some strong foul language.