Hong Kong action star Jet Li shines in this formulaic but hard-hitting action thriller, in which a Chinese special agent runs afoul of dirty cops in Paris. Liu Jian (Li) is sent to assist Inspector Richard (Tchéky Karyo) and his team in arresting a Chinese drug lord known only as Mr. Big (Ric Young) and identifying his French connection. Liu gets a cool reception from his Gallic colleagues, who relieve him of his gun, refuse to so much as try to say his name Richard dubs him "Johnny" instead and grumble that they're not so incompetent that they need back-up all the way from Shanghai for a simple bust. Naturally, the simple bust turns into a bloody disaster: Right before the deal goes down in a fancy hotel, Mr. Big disappears upstairs with a pair of hookers, one of whom suddenly pulls a weapon and stabs him repeatedly. The other, apparently less experienced girl, Jessica (Bridget Fonda), has succumbed to a case of cold feet and is hiding in the bathroom when the blood starts flying. Richard and his team burst in, Liu in tow, and things get really ugly: Richard finishes off Mr. Big and murders the killer prostitute, both with Liu's confiscated gun. Richard obviously plans to kill Liu and blame the whole bloody thing on him, but Liu stages a spectacular escape and retreats to his safe house (actually a shop that sells shrimp crackers to Chinese restaurants) in Pigalle Paris' red light district to plot his next move. The Chinese authorities are powerless and every corrupt cop in town is looking for Liu, so he enters into an uneasy alliance with Jessica, who turns out to be a good-hearted Midwestern farm girl whom Richard hooked on drugs, forced into prostitution and is keeping under his thumb by holding her small daughter hostage. The story is formulaic, but this brutal, fast-paced thriller makes excellent use of Li's martial arts prowess, which includes some sneaky business with acupuncture needles. The action set pieces which include free-for-alls aboard a bateau mouche, in a martial arts class for cops and an orphanage filled with screaming children are knockouts, and the small, slender Li has a pair of visually perfect foils in Richard's sidekicks, a pair of hulking, bleach-bond, twin kung fu creeps (Cyril Raffaelli, Didier Azoulay).
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- Released: 2001
- Rating: R
- Review: Hong Kong action star Jet Li shines in this formulaic but hard-hitting action thriller, in which a Chinese special agent runs afoul of dirty cops in Paris. Liu Jian (Li) is sent to assist Inspector Richard (Tchéky Karyo) and his team in arresting a Chinese… (more)