Kiss of the Dragon
is a 2001 martial arts action film
starring Jet Li
, written by Luc Besson
and directed by Chris Nahon
Liu Jian (Li), a Chinese intelligence officer, comes to Paris
to help the vice squad apprehend Chinese drug lord Mr. Big and his unknown French connection. He joins forces with French police official Jean-Pierre Richard (Tchéky Karyo) in order to do it. Alas, it turns out that Richard is Big's connection, and that Richard is planning to murder Big. When Jian discovers, tries and fails to stop this, Richard frames him for the murder. Jian is able to escape with a tape that proves his innocence, but he loses it soon after. Just when it seems he has nowhere to turn, he meets Jessica, a Hooker with a Heart of Gold
whom Richard has forced into prostitution and heroin-addiction, and who was present at the site of Big's murder and thus can prove Jian's innocence. Alas, Richard also has Jessica's daughter under his thumb in an orphanage
, and she refuses to help until Jian gets her. Jian sets off to do it, evading Richard's mooks and seeking to slay him at the same time.
Li made the film as a result of fans requesting more realistic fight scenes following Romeo Must Die
. Consequently, only two scenes required CGI enhancement (the flames from the grenade explosion and the billiard ball after Li's character kicks it) and only one scene involved wire work (Cyril Raffaelli's 1 1/4 somersault, which he could do it on his own
, but it went too fast for the camera, so they had wires to slow it down). Critics considered it lukewarm (51% on Rotten Tomatoes
), and it was a moderate box office success.
This film provides examples of:
- Asshole Victim: Mr. Big.
- Ax-Crazy: Like Norman Stansfield before him, Inspector Richard is a volatile nutcase who frequently and readily loses his temper and isn't afraid to use violence to get what he wants.
- Bad Ass: Liu Jian. He is the kind of guy who can clear out a whole room of black belts and make it look easy.
- Bad Boss: Inspector Richard. No need to make a long list what he's done, so here's a short version: Other than being the head of local Interpol branch, and running a prostitution ring, he makes sure to keep them addicted and keeps the daughter of one in an orphanage to prevent her from leaving. He gets his own people killed to protect himself. And those he doesn't kill, he blackmails, and he sets up murders.
- Bring It: Played with. After the smaller brother goads Jian into attacking with this, to his advantage, Jian turns it back on him to gain the upper hand. The fight scene grinds to a halt as both fighters realize they're better off where they are. The result could be subtitled "Bring it!" "No, you bring it!" "No, you!" The brother eventually gives in and gets his ass kicked, so he does it again to get Jian to fight on his terms once more (and still loses).
- Celibate Hero: Jian, to the point that Jessica wonders if he is gay, much to his annoyance.
- Clear My Name: Richard frames Jian for the murder of the man he had been sent to arrest. The rest of the film is Jian trying to expose Richard.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Right there in the name...
- Dirty Cop: Richard and practically his entire department. He's got a Hookers and Blow operation on the side.
- Entendre Failure: Jessica offers a favor to Jian for being kind to her, but sex isn't something that registers for him.
- Gay Paree
- Giant Mook: A Scary Black Man henchman tries to smush Jian after he attacks a pimp who was abusing Jessica. The larger of the two brothers at the police station also qualifies.
- Groin Attack: Blond Giant Mook. Twice.
- A mook gets shot in the junk during the boat scene.
- Guns Akimbo
- Hair-Trigger Temper / Jerk Ass: Inspector Richard screams profanities at people in practically every scene, so much so that one wonders how he never blows his cover.
- Hookers and Blow: The hookers brought to Big's hotel room bring some blow with them.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Jessica
- Hostage for MacGuffin: Defied by Jian. Richard tries to trade Jessica's daughter for the tapes of a murder. Jian has already turned the tapes in, and is now going to get the daughter.
- Hostage Situation: Richard tries to play the card again face to face, and it's still defied. Jian points out that in the time it takes Richard to kill the girl, Jian will kill him. Richard instead elects to shoot Jian, which goes even worse (if he had shot the girl, he'd at least have spite to his name, all he managed instead was a minor wound).
- I Have Your Wife: Richard holds the daughter hostage.
- Improvised Weapon: Among other things, Jian beats up mooks with a scooter, a broom, and with dual irons.
- He also kills a guy with chopsticks to the throat.
- Invincible Hero: Jian takes out the entire police station and by the end of it only has a cut-up hand from some glass and a bullet in his shoulder, which only happened after he had taken out everyone else.
- It Only Works Once: During their fight, Jian grabs the smaller brother's foot and tries to throw him onto his back. The smaller brother instead backflips and kicks Jian in the chest. When they wind up in the same position, Jian rushes forward and grabs the brother's legs, snapping his neck when he hits the ground.
- Karmic Death: The Neck Snap-happy brothers both die by the same.
- Kick the Dog: Richard gets several of these, including having his thugs working some poor guy over when Jian walks in to do business with him, murdering Big and framing Jian for it, and forcibly injecting Jessica with her "fix" of heroin before throwing her back on the street when she asks him to free her daughter so she can get out of the business.
- Lame Comeback: Richard's comeback to the Title Drop is "kiss my ass", which would be lame even if he weren't completely paralyzed.
- Malicious Misnaming: Richard gives no attempt at pronouncing Jian's name and just refers to him as Johnny. At the end, Jian's final words to Richard are, "My name is not Johnny."
- Mook Chivalry: Averted, as the second wave of martial artists in the police dojo actually try to attack Liu Jian at once. However, after he tosses one of the first wave against the group, their formation is broken and he curbstomps his way among them in the trope's old iteration.
- Neck Snap: The brothers are fond of this, with the bigger one Neck Lifting the victim so the smaller one can jump up and break their neck with a hook kick. Unsurprisingly, both die this way.
- Obviously Evil: Inspector Richard. When Jian first meets him, you knew he was the Big Bad.
- Oh, Crap: "Now I know where you are. I'm coming up."
- Jian gets a minor one when he barricades a door in the police station and turns around to see he's sealed himself inside a dojo full of black belts with tonfas.
- One-Man Army: Jian plows through an entire police station, which happens to have a hand-to-hand combat course in session.
- Out with a Bang: A killer prostitute (specifically an assassin targeting a specific victim) asks her victim things like "Do you want to go to heaven?" and "Are you ready to go to heaven?" as she's riding him to (his) orgasm. He asks her to take him there, in no frame of mind to notice just how long and sharp the hairpins she's holding are. Mortality ensues.
- Right-Hand Cat: Richard has a pet turtle that he keeps in a drawer in his desk.
- Sequential Symptom Syndrome: Jian uses kung fu acupuncture to make a guy's head explode. He describes the physical symptoms as the man stands paralyzed.
- Soft Glass: Zig-zagged. The brothers are shown to kick their way through the glass with reckless abandon, but both Jian and the bigger brother slice up their hands when they accidentally grab surfaces covered in it.
- Stealth Pun: The Big Bad, who basically goes out of his way to be an asshole at every opportunity, is named Inspector Richard. No one makes the obvious connection.
- Touch of Death / You Are Already Dead: The film's title refers to a technique in which an acupuncture needle is stabbed into a Pressure Point in someone's neck, causing all the blood to flow to the head thus causing aneurysm. Jian does it to Richard in the climax.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Inspector Richard.
- Workaholic: Jian's job is all he knows; Jessica is stunned that he's so blocked out from the outside world that he doesn't know who Santa Claus is.
- You Just Told Me: In order to get Richard's location in the building, Jian asks him to look out the window. Richard thinks Jian already knows, thus betraying himself when he complies.