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'Cradle'

DMX takes a ruff ride in 'Cradle'

Friday, February 28, 2003

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

By the end of "Cradle 2 the Grave," the testosterone just about drips off the screen and puddles at your feet. Midway through, the movie cuts between a club hosting no-holds-barred fighting inside a chain-link cage and a man trying to make an escape on a stolen all-terrain vehicle while being chased by cops and at least one very angry motorcyclist.

 
 
'Cradle 2 The Grave'

RATING: R for violence, language and some sexual content.

STARRING: DMX, Jet Li

DIRECTOR: Andrzej Bartowiak

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Any picture that opens with a song featuring Eminem and "Cradle" star DMX and builds to a martial-arts fight to the death -- staged in an outdoor ring of fire -- is not going to turn up on the Oxygen channel any time soon. The best part of the movie comes as the credits roll and supporting players Tom Arnold and Anthony Anderson riff on their adventures; it seems spontaneous and is very funny.

The rest of the movie, however, springs from a jewel heist, the subsequent theft of stolen black diamonds, and the kidnapping of an 8-year-old girl. Tony Fait (DMX) and his gang (Anderson, Gabrielle Union and Drag-On) risk their lives and freedom for the gems, only to have them snatched away. When Tony's daughter is kidnapped, he must join forces with a Taiwanese government agent named Su (Jet Li) who has his own reasons for coveting the stolen stones.

You could drive a tank through some of the holes in logic -- and funny thing is, Arnold, whose character, Archie, is a fence also dealing in weapons, and Anderson do just that. "Cradle" is a sleek-looking picture for a new breed of young male audience that wants a constant rap-driven soundtrack with action, an upscale urban backdrop and martial-arts fights. A strip tease by Union apparently is just icing on the cake.

In addition to Li, the cast includes Kelly Hu from "The Scorpion King," along with Mark Dacascos from "Brotherhood of the Wolf" and the syndicated TV series "The Crow: Stairway to Heaven." With a little help from a stunt double and a special harness rig, Li appears to free fall down the outside of a building, gliding from ledge to ledge.

Wicked cool. Can't say the same about the rest of the movie.


Barbara Vancheri can be reached at bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632.

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