Jet Li is always a pleasure to watch, even in this silly story about a Chinese spy befriended by an American prostitute on a mission in Paris.
No longer the pretty boy in the equally silly but more romantic “Romeo Must Die,” this time, in a story he created, Li lets us see some chicken pox scars on his face and he lets us see him get knocked down a few times, too.
But don’t confuse that with realism. This is still a ridiculous fantasy story about an evil policeman named Richard (Tchéky Karyo) who seems to be behind most of the crime in Europe. Richard runs prostitutes and deals in drugs. And when the Chinese government sends a representative to help investigate drug traffic into China, Richard kills his Chinese contact and frames the representative, whom he insists on calling “Johnny.”
All of this is, of course, just a thin excuse for extensive and sometimes inventive fight scenes, featuring lots of punching and kicking and also injury and death by grenade (which blows a guy in half), laundry irons (applied to faces), automatic weapons, chopsticks to the throat, a billiard ball to the head, and some tiny acupuncture pins with devastating effects. My favorite encounter was when Li, chasing through the police station, locks himself inside a room only to turn around and discover that he is facing an entire class of cops who are in a karate class.
Parents should know that the movie is extremely violent and very graphic, with many gross, bloody deaths and behavior that is reckless to the point of insanity. Richard makes Al Capone look like a consensus-builder. Even most movie bad guys are not as out of control as Richard, who wildly shoots automatic weapons into crowds of civilians. Li made headlines the week before the film was released by recommending that parents not allow their children to see the movie, which is rated R for extreme and graphic violence, drug use, and sexual references and situations. This is good advice.
Families who do see the movie should talk about how Jessica, an American girl from North Dakota, made the foolish choices that left her a heroin-addicted prostitute and kept her away from her daughter. What other options did she have? What will happen to her after the movie ends?