Cradle far from rocking

“Don’t you get it? There’s a formula,” said Randy Meeks in Wes Cravens’ 1996 comic-horror gem Scream. And, indeed, there is. Though Randy was referring to the horror movie genre, the same holds true with action movies, especially those that team rappers with marital arts experts.

The trend of rappers moving into big-budget action films is easily explained: money.

Filmmakers are hoping to borrow some street cred and attract a wider audience, thus shifting the thought process from wanting to make a decent movie to wanting to find a successful rapper who can help sell the flick.

Cradle 2 The Grave is by far one of the worst action movies this year, but it’s still head over heels better than Ja Rule’s Half Past Dead and a major improvement over Sisqo’s Get Over It.

In this latest disaster, DMX plays the leader of a group of highly trained thieves who turns to Taiwanese Intelligence officer (Jet Li) for help in rescuing his daughter who has been kidnapped and held in exchange for priceless diamonds.

Cradle‘s plot follows closely that of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker’s 1999 blockbuster Rush Hour. The only difference is that Cradle contains less humor and more swearing. As an added bonus, some of the X-man’s distinctive barking is thrown in.

Throughout the movie, Li and DMX exchange some fancy words and race against the clock to find the precious stones. Cradle 2 The Grave offers absolutely nothing more than an action-packed ride — the plot is so predictable none of it comes as a shock.

Once the audience gets the movie’s plot down, the twist comes, as the duo discovers that their enemies also have a plan to distribute a deadly new weapon of war.

Cradle 2 The Grave could who easily be mistaken for a sequel to the 2000 Romeo Must Die. Li and DMX both starred in that film, and its director, Andrzej Bartkowiak, returns to the helm here.

Li delivers some of the best action sequences and mouth-dropping stunts in recent movie history, but as an actor, he still needs some work. DMX is coming along nicely. Despite his horrible team-up with Steven Seagal in 2001’s Exit Wounds, he is slowly progressing toward being a better, yet still mediocre, actor.

While it is not a great movie, Cradle 2 The Grave is refreshing compared to a market overrun with musicians turned movie stars in movies that were probably better off trashed (Mariah’s Glitter, Britney’s Crossroads).

While Cradle 2 The Grave will never be more than a typical action film at best, if you get any pleasure from seeing fast talk and fancy footwork, this may be a movie worth checking out or one worth renting in a few months.

Action, R, Running time: 100 min.

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