CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE- Jet Li once again joins up with a musical costar in Andrzej Bartkowiak's thrill-a-minute CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE. Li was introduced to American audiences as the villain in Richard Donner's LETHAL WEAPON 4, which featured former Crystals lead singer Darlene Love. Li got his first English-language starring role in Bartkowiak's ROMEO MUST DIE, with the late Aaliyah and rapper DMX. The director has reteamed Li and DMX as men on opposite sides of the law who are forced to work together in CRADLE. DMX plays Fait, a powerful man with a deep love for black diamonds but a deeper love for his daughter (who gets kidnapped). Li is Su, a Taiwanese agent--Fait calls him the Kung Fu James Bond--who has come to Los Angeles to find the stones and capture his former partner, Ling (Mark Dacascos), who is after the gems as well. The action is fast and furious as Su sides with Fait to battle helicopters, trains, fancy cars, motorcycles, tanks, and flying ATVs in rings of fire and pouring rain. High-tech heists and heavy heat send the action quotient soaring while Tom Arnold supplies comic relief and karate hottie Kelly Hu adds mystery and romance (along with awesome martial arts stunts).
TRAINING DAY - Antoine Fuqua (THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS, BAIT) turns up the intensity level with TRAINING DAY, a charged drama about police corruption in downtown Los Angeles. Ethan Hawke stars as Jake Hoyt, a well-intentioned young officer who thinks he's found his ticket to becoming a detective in the form of undercover officer Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington). Harris is a notorious figure in the streets and in the office. He also has the authority to make Jake's professional wishes come true, provided Jake is able to prove his worth on Alonzo's team. At first, Alonzo's blunt, carefree demeanor provides a shock to Jake's optimistic system, but as it becomes clear that Alonzo is dangerously out of control, Jake must decide whether or not to risk his future in the name of the law.
Washington's performance as the evil, pragmatic detective is a sight to behold. He delivers his lines with a devilish ferocity that keeps the film bubbling throughout. Hawke slips into the role of the rookie everyman with ease, providing a good contrast to Washington's fiery presence. Former video director Fuqua completes the picture by casting musicians Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Macy Gray in supporting roles.