Kiss Of The Dragon

Kiss Of The Dragon (2001)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Jet Li, Bridget Fonda
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Martial Arts Demos, Storyboards, Theatrical Trailer

’Kiss Of The Dragon’ is a weird combination of influences. Produced by French director Luc Besson, directed by newcomer French director Chris Nahon, featuring Hollywood actress Bridget Fonda and Hong Kong superstar Jet Li, this formula would typically spell disaster. Fortunately for all fans of martial arts films, things don’t look so gloomy in ’Kiss Of The Dragon’ as it turns out to be a carefully crafted film, which uses everyone’s strengths to good effect. This is certainly no Tsui Hark or Woo-Ping Yuen movie in its execution and breathtaking stunts, but nonetheless, ’Kiss Of The Dragon’ contains a series of great-looking moments, no doubt as a result of Corey Yuen’s experienced stunt choreography, as well as a solid storyline.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is bringing ’Kiss Of The Dragon’ to DVD in its 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio in a transfer that is enhanced for 16×9 TV sets. As expected, the transfer is absolutely clean and doesn’t show any defects. Grain is at a minimum, creating an image that is very stable, clean and sharp. Colors are vividly reproduced, giving the movie a lot of atmosphere as the director and cinematographer Thierry Arbogast, who also lensed many of Besson’s films, create beautiful and elaborately set up shots. Blacks are deep in this transfer and never break up while highlights are well-balanced, giving the image good contrast. The compression has been done very carefully and no signs of compression artifacts are evident.

The DVD features an aggressive 5.1 channel Dolby Digital mix alongside Dolby Surround tracks in English and Spanish. The track is very energetic, perfectly underscoring the film’s subject matter. Making aggressive and effective use of the surround channels, ’Kiss Of The Dragon’ features an engaging sound track that often bombards the viewer from all directions. The dynamic range of the tracks is very wide, creating truly explosive moments without distortion, while the wide frequency response ensures a clear and natural sounding reproduction of all sound elements.

The DVD contains an informative commentary track with cast and crew members, which offer some additional insight into the production. A selection of featurettes highlight star Jet Li, the production itself and stunt choreographer Corey Yuen. These featurettes are well-produced and entertaining. Storyboard to film comparisons and trailers round out this release from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Fans of the true Hong Kong cinema still frown on the homemade attempts to duplicate the glory of Hong Kong action cinema – rightfully so. ’Kiss Of The Dragon’ cannot live up to the great films Hong Kong has produced in the past, but at the same time, it offers an interesting mix that works quite well. Give this disc a try. You may like it.