Kiss of the Dragon: Special Edition (2001)
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Chris Nahon, Jet Li and Bridget Fonda
Featurette-Jet Li-Fighting Philosophy
Featurette-Cory Yuen-Action Academy
Featurette-Police Gymnasium Fight: Martial Arts Demo
Featurette-On The Set Action
Storyboard Comparisons-The Laundry Chute
Gallery-Action Gallery Production Stills
|Year Of Production||2001|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (41:28)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Chris Nahon|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Kiss of the Dragon has amazing action scenes, with awesome martial arts and lots of pyrotechnics. It has a scantily-clad Bridget Fonda. It has a marvellous villain - quite an evil man. It has a lone warrior against a horde of enemies. Lots of cool stuff. It even has a plot, of sorts, although it's a pretty poor one.
But it is a failure, and I can't really tell you why. It's not because I know and won't tell you - you know I'd tell you if I knew - it's because I can't really understand what the problem is. It's not that the plot is dreadful - films with worse plots have been a success (look at, for example, Big Trouble in Little China - you can't tell me that that isn't a dreadful plot!). It's certainly not the quality of the martial arts - this is a martial arts tour de force, helped in no small part by Jet Li's incredible level of skill. It's not the actors around him, either: Bridget Fonda is a skilled actress, Tcheky Karyo is superb, Burt Kwouk is very good (although I can't get his Pink Panther performances out of my head when I see him), and the minor characters are more than competent. The picture is tightly cut (there's barely a moment of wasted space in the entire feature). The music is very good, suiting the action on-screen well.
I cannot stress too much how good the action sequences are. These are beautifully choreographed (action director Cory Yuen can take credit for this), and superbly performed. All the behind-the-scenes footage makes it clear that Jet Li is performing the stunts for real, without wires and without CGI (well, except for the snooker ball - you'll see what I mean) - he is very skilled.
Maybe the problem is that we can't get involved with the characters. Jet Li's character is interesting (and placed in some difficult situations), but we really don't get to see inside him - he's tightly controlled, almost emotionless. He doesn't give us enough to work on. Even when (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) he ducks into a room to escape a large number of enemies with guns, only to find himself confronted by an entire martial arts class of black belts armed with batons, we see nothing on his face - a touch of emotion, and it would be very funny (Jackie Chan would do that moment well, even though I think Jet Li's martial arts skills are superior).
Or maybe the problem is that a critical part of the plot of this film hinges on a coincidence. Is it really credible that (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) the only witness who can clear Jet Li's name happens to be standing outside the shop he is hiding in? I don't think so. This is poor plotting.
One thing is certain - after watching this film, you will never look at acupuncture the same way again.
If you want a film with fantastic action, brilliant martial arts, and a large budget for ammunition, this is a good choice. Just don't expect too much from the characters or the plot, and you should be fine.
This film is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. That's the correct aspect ratio.
The image is extremely good. It is extremely sharp, beautifully focussed, with excellent shadow detail, and no low-level noise. This is a reference-level transfer.
Colour is superbly rendered. No exaggeration, no over-saturation, no colour bleed, just rich, deep, colours - including deeply detailed blacks.
There are some film artefacts - the only two that rate above miniscule are at 18:13 and 42:36, but these are small white marks on single frames. A little disappointing for a film that's so recent, but acceptable. There's virtually no aliasing - I have no idea how this was achieved, because this level of sharpness is usually associated with some nasty aliasing, but not in this case. There is no moire, and no MPEG shimmer. Backgrounds are soft, gently out of focus, but that works - it's part of the style of this movie to have a fairly shallow depth of field. There is one sequence which displays some film grain, but given that it is set in the middle of the night, under low-light conditions, I think we can forgive them.
There are subtitles in English (but no other languages). I watched them, and I can report that they are, as always, a little abbreviated at times, but they are accurate, well-timed, and easy to read..
The disc is single-sided (nice picture label, better than the R1), RSDL, with the layer change quite early in the movie at 41:28. It's a pretty good change, happening at a moment when the on-screen image is still, but you may well notice it.
The English soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1 at 384 kbps. There's a commentary, but that's the only other soundtrack.
The dialogue is clear and comprehensible (despite the wide range of accents - Chinese, French, American, English...), with no visible audio sync problems.
The score, from Craig Armstrong, is excellent. It enhances the action well.
This is one of the best 5.1 soundtracks I've heard - the surrounds are active almost continuously, with the score and with ambient sounds. Excellent directional audio. The subwoofer gets plenty to do, too, supporting the score and providing lots of LFE. The film was released (according to the credits) with a choice of Dolby Digital and dts soundtracks - shame we didn't get the dts soundtrack, because this mix would sound marvellous in dts.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are lots of extras on this disc.
The menu is simple, with attractive transitions, animation, and music.
This is not the world's greatest commentary, but it's moderately interesting. Bridget Fonda has a tendency to gush - she's effusive in her admiration of Jet Li. Chris Nahon doesn't have a lot to say, and Jet Li keeps fairly quiet.
Bridget Fonda talks about her laundry chute scene in Point of No Return, and I thought "what about the one in Assassin?" - I checked, and discovered that Assassin was the Australian title for Point of No Return.
This is a fairly shallow look at Jet Li and his skills.
An interesting look at Cory Yuen, the man who choreographed and filmed the action sequences. I was surprised to learn that he was part of the same Chinese opera training troupe as Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung. This one is well worth watching.
The demos show the amount of work they put into choreographing a second or two of on-screen action.
Some behind-the-scenes footage, showing how much of the stunt work is done practically (rather than CGI or wire work)..
Now this is a cool extra. There are three versions of this sequence, selectable from a menu:
The cool part is that it is presented as a multi-angle scene - you can flick from one to the other using the Angle button on your remote - how often do you get to use that button?
Sad to say, this time we only get the storyboards (I was looking forward to another multi-angle scene!). Understandable, though, because this time the storyboards don't match the scene in the film.
This is even less than a standard making-of - it's a glorified extended trailer.
Presented in an aspect ratio of about 1.85:1, not 16x9 enhanced.
These are all 0:32 in length:
The content is very similar, but they do vary a little in emphasis.
The Region 1 disc is missing:
The Region 4 disc is missing:
Had I been asked to review the R1 disc, I'd have given it good ratings - I thought it was rather good. However, it pales in comparison to the R4. Folks, we have a winner here - the R4 is dramatically better than the R1 in terms of picture quality, and it doesn't have annoying advertisements before the menu appears (the menus are almost identical, in case you're wondering).
Kiss Of The Dragon is a movie that's long on action, but short on plot and characterisation, on a near-perfect DVD.
The video quality is reference level.
The audio quality is excellent.
The extras are comprehensive.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|