In Cradle, a demographic-friendly mixture of Hong Kong chop-sockery and urban hip-hop chic, Jet Li shows off a new trick. Having dropped in on a yuppie sleazeball to find out about a jewel heist, Li slaps him round every inch of his swanky condo - all with one hand in his pocket.
In truth, Jet could coast through Cradle with both hands tied behind his back. The trouble with playing an invincible secret agent is the lack of worthy adversaries. Even bad guy Mark Dacascos - no slouch in the Fists Of Fury department - lacks the agility to make Li so much as break into a sweat.
Curiously, it's rapper-turned-actor DMX who gets the better share of the action: the aforementioned heist, capped off with a neat escape atop a speeding subway car; shoot-outs, one involving a tank; and a quad-bike pursuit over the rooftops of downtown LA. It's all fabulously improbable, but no more so than DMX's character Tony Fait - a thief who only robs pimps and drug dealers, operates a strict `no guns' policy and has a cute-as-a-button daughter he dotes on.
Fait's latest haul, stolen from Dacascos' mob, is some `black diamonds' with mysterious properties. Naturally, Dacascos and co kidnap DMX's poppet in an effort to recover their loot and, before you can say "buddy picture", Li has joined forces with DMX to rescue the gal, retrieve the gems and save the world as we know it.
Former DoP Andrzej Bartkowiak may not be the subtlest director on the block, but with Romeo Must Die and Exit Wounds under his belt, he pretty much has this formula down. Cradle 2 The Grave, then, is everything you expect: flashy, trashy and disposable.
Jet Li's on autopilot in this slick actioner, though his fans will be too busy lapping up the mayhem to notice. Noisy fun for martial-arts junkies, but the unconverted need not apply.