[box cover]

Cradle 2 the Grave

Mix one rapper (DMX), one kung fu action star from Hong Kong (Jet Li), hot chicks (Gabrielle Union, Kelly Hu), some comic support (Anthony Anderson, Tom Arnold), a crossover actor from a foreign film (Brotherhood of the Wolf's Mark Dacascos), an all-terrain-vehicle chase, and a side helping of the Joel Silver touch (he who brought us Road House and those Matrix movies), and one has the makings of a drive-in classic. Unfortunately, the recipe for Cradle 2 the Grave turned out edible, but not memorable. DMX (who's gon' give it to you) stars as Fait, a thief with a heart who pulls off a "daring" daylight theft of black diamonds. But hot on his trail is Su (Li), a Taiwanese government agent on the tail of the diamonds' original owner Ling (Dacascos). Ling wants the diamonds back bad, and to get them Ling kidnaps Fait's kid while Archie (Arnold), the pawn-shop owner who was holding them, is robbed, and no longer knows who has them. Ling doesn't know about the second theft — and doesn't care — but with the help of his team of crooks (including Anderson and Union) and Su, he has to get the diamonds and his daughter back. Directed by Exit Wounds and Romeo Must Die helmer Andrjez Bartkowiak, there's plenty of action in Cradle 2 the Grave, including the ATV chase (which a reporter calls "extreme"), Jet Li getting stuck in a cage match against some ultimate fighters, some good hand-to-hand combat, and a soundtrack awash in 2003 hip-hop (including Eminem and 50 Cent). However, though it's entertaining enough, the whole project comes across as shamelessly high-concept as the title — which, to give the film some street-flava, exchanges the word "to" for its numerical homonym (hey gang, Prince has been doing this for years). The actors come off well — even DMX (who first is gon' to rock, and then gon' to roll), it's just that the movie plays more as a paycheck than accomplishment — virtually everyone involved has done much better work. The highlight may be the credits, which feature Anthony Anderson and Tom Arnold bouncing off each other as they did in the credits of Exit Wounds. Warner presents Cradle 2 the Grave in (separately available) anamorphic (2.35:1) and pan-and-scan versions with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras consist of the music video for DMX's "X Gon' Give It To Ya," and featurettes about the technical aspects of making the film entitled "Ultimate Fighting Champions," "Choreography of the Camera," "The Descender Rig," and two Easter egg featurettes on time-lapse montage and rear projection (note to Warner: With Easter eggs, either have the features easily accessible or don't advertise that they're on the disc. There's a reason why they're called Easter eggs.) Trailer, snap-case.

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