review for Cradle 2 the Grave on AllMovie

Cradle 2 the Grave (2003)
by Jeremy Wheeler review

Like most of Jet Li's stateside films, Cradle 2 the Grave is yet another poor excuse of an action film to showcase the martial arts expert's talents. Of course, this being a modern American kung fu flick, there just has to be a rapper playing opposite him -- this time it's the seemingly always moralistic DMX. After his goody goody role in the surprisingly good Seagal comeback flick Exit Wounds, you'd think that he might want to get serious about kicking butt, but instead he opts for a latter-day Eddie Murphy family-guy mindset and ends up breaking the record for how many times one can make references to being "a father" in a film. (Dear DMX, the audience got it by about the fifth time.) The script is just one big mess too, with the action and plot annoyingly split between the two leads at all times during the film. In fact, if it weren't for the simply atrocious editing, Cradle 2 the Grave would be much better remembered, if not simply because of the scene where Jet Li fights a midget! It's absolute genius, with the tuxedoed little guy spinning kicks at our hero in a cage match as the place explodes with over a dozen brawlers all heading for Li. Unfortunately for the audience, the fun is majorly spoiled by the big hand of the editor once again, cutting the action dead in its tracks and picking up DMX's story line long after you forgot what the heck his character was up to. It's this kind of reckless disregard for action set pieces that kills Cradle 2 the Grave. Amazingly, it doesn't stop with this scene, as the final fight between Li and Brotherhood of the Wolf extraordinaire Mark Dacascos, which should have been epic, is virtually ruined by the same technique. (Funny enough, the same editor is also the guy who didn't know how to cut Li's action in Romeo Must Die.) Thankfully, the film repeats the hilarious comic relief from Exit Wounds, with Tom Arnold and Anthony Anderson crackin' jokes once again during the end credits -- a welcome ending to a frustrating film.