Cradle 2 The Grave
Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak
Written by John O'Brien, Channing Gibson
Starring Jet Li, DMX


Cradle 2 The Grave

Less is more. Hold that thought and remember Jules Dassin's great jewel heist film "Topkapi," and Jean-Pierre Melville's also-great jewel heist film "Le Cercle Rouge." Remember anything in which people act like human beings and not video-game characters, as they do in "Cradle 2 The Grave," the new and bizarre heist film that stars Jet Li and DMX, a name that calls to mind the picture of his parents cooing over him: "Oh, look - it's our beautiful new baby; let's call him DMX." In the film, however, he is called Fait, which I misheard throughout as 'Faith.' Silly me.

The film opens with a team of jewel thieves breaking into Los Angeles's diamond center to steal a group of supposed black diamonds. As we are supposed to take on faith that there are such things, and that they are not cross-dressing pencil leads or carbon paper. But very shortly their master calls the cops on them and in a way that escaped me they somehow lose the diamonds - though from the looks of the rest of the loot they could easily retire to a non-extraditable country. But if they did, the film would be over and I wouldn't have to write this.

Enter the Dragon - no, I mean Jet Li, as Su, a Taiwan police investigator who's been sent to get the black diamonds back. Meanwhile, the really bad guys have kidnapped DMX's 8-year-old daughter Vanessa and are holding her captive, as we say, until he finds and gives the diamonds to them. Do you really want to hear about the chase on the ATV? Or the stunt in which Jet Li drops down the side of a building from ledge to ledge, using only his hands? Or when he destroys a dozen ultimate-boxing opponents in five minutes? Or that the diamonds aren't really diamonds at all but plutonium? I guess not.

This truly terrible film, and here we should add that the title has no meaning, was directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak ("Romeo Must Die" and "Exit Wounds"), as though he were being pursued by the Furies of MTV. I doubt that any shot was held more than five seconds, and with the confused plot it's probably better that way. In case you're wondering, the good guys survive and the bad guys die. If only it were the other way around.