A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is extremely violent, with a lot of intense peril, many character deaths, and graphic wounds. A little girl is in peril and bound and gagged. Characters use extremely bad language, including racial epithets, but the group of good guys is racially diverse. Characters drink and smoke. A character pretends to be gay in order to distract a gay security guard, and there are some mild stereotypes.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After stealing a cache of valuable black diamonds, Tony Fait (DMX) learns that his daughter has been kidnapped by a former lawman, Ling (Mark Dacascos), who demands those black diamonds as ransom. But Tony's fence (Tom Arnold) was robbed, and the diamonds are gone. In order to get them, and his daughter back, Tony ends up teaming up with Ling's former partner, Su (Jet Li).
Is it any good?
This slapdash mess of an explosion movie wastes the talents of its cast and can't even slow down to let us enjoy the fight scenes. I don't care if the plot doesn't make sense to me, but I like to have it make sense to the people who are in the movie. No such luck. DMX showed some charisma and promise in Exit Wounds, the last film by this director, but he does not have enough to do here in CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE. His character -- high-tech superstar thief who preys on bad guys by day/loving daddy who prays with his adorable and spunky daughter by night -- just does not work. The delicious Gabrielle Union (Deliver us from Eva) is wasted as kick-boxing arm candy who is even forced to do a strip tease to provide a distraction while her boyfriend is tossing the room next store. Jet Li looks like he'd rather be someplace else. Tom Arnold and Anthony Andersen provide some flashes of humor.
The plot is not just murky, which is forgiveable; it is manipulative, which is not. It is shameless to have the little girl kidnapped by the bad guys to make us see how truly evil they are and make us feel some commitment to the outcome. It is even more shameless to have the black diamonds turn out to be a power source for super-destructive weapons. But what is really unforgiveable here is the waste of the movie's primary asset, Jet Li's ability to fight, by filming the scenes so poorly that we don't really get a good look at what he can do.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: February 28, 2003
- On DVD or streaming: August 12, 2003
- Cast: Anthony Anderson, DMX, Jet Li
- Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, language and some sexual content
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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