Hired by a vice squad, Liu Juan travels to France to apprehend a Chinese drug lord. Biding his time, Liu observes Mr. Big enter his suite with two women and heads up to the security room to keep watch. As one woman is in the bathroom, the other takes the opportunity to pull out knives hidden in her hair and assassinate Mr. Big. Inciting panic, Liu attempts to get downstairs but then is turned into the scapegoat for the murder when he tackles the woman. Dodging a bullet and somehow stealing the security footage, Liu escapes his pursuers and hides out in an ally’s chip shop. The surviving woman, Jessica Kamen, from the chaos emerges from the bathroom, gets taken before the Inspector Richard, who manages to control women through prostitution. He chooses to drug her back up and send her back out to the streets. When Liu and Jessica meet, they are initially unaware of their connection but have quite the challenge in front of them, as Jessica’s daughter is still in Richard’s custody.
Starring: Jet Li (Liu Jian), Bridget Fonda (Jessica Kamen), Tcheky Karyo (Insp. Richard), Max Ryan (Lupo), Ric Young (Mister Big), Burt Kwouk (Uncle Tai), Laurence Ashley (Aja), Paul Barrett (Pilot), John Forgeham (Max)
With little dialogue but a lot of action, Jet Li provides a bit of emotion in a fairly dry story (though not much). His larger focus is in the martial arts sequences, involving scenery as offensive and defensive assistance. Much of these sequences as enjoyable but just a little unbelievable that one man could outmatch up to 20 assailants. For Bridget Fonda, this served as one of her last films but not a very good performance. Her character seems to put a lot of pressure on a man she hardly knows because he has some useful skills. She goes through a range of highly exaggerated emotions without seeming to fit the scene. Tcheky Karyo played Richard and certainly manages to present a menacing figure but also does not project a reason for his mistreatment of a child (other than his character’s seediness with his prostitution business).
Chris Nahon’s action flick is a tale of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Liu is on a mission but wound up a fugitive when he is betrayed by the men who hired him. While he has a number of different moves in his arsenal, one of the most beneficial is his knowledge of acupuncture. There is no real explanation of this skill, but he possesses a band on his wrist that is full of acupuncture needles and a working knowledge of where to place them to immobilize his attackers. There are several moments where he uses his needles to escape difficult situations.
For Jessica Kamen, there is no significant backstory to explain how she got stuck in the life of a prostitute or drug addict or where her daughter cam from. She has a brief moment where she describes her arrival in Paris but without giving a sense of the rest of it. One could make the assumption that she had no adequate skills for anything but prostitution and ended up running into drugs as a side effect of the job choice. The relationship between Richard and Jessica is also a bit underdeveloped. She gets references as his best girl but they also seem to have a little something between them. Is the child an offspring of her and Richard? This is a question that is never answered.
Aside from a few entertaining fight scenes, the movie lacks depth and explanation. Action movies such as this are not expected to go into a lot of story detail but this seems to fall a bit below the mark.
Dan’s Rating: 2.0/5