Whenever we start one of our long form Challenges like the mapl.de.map or Calendar, we always have a film in mind for a few of the spots. It’s no different for our newest challenge, The Periodic Table of Smellements. That’s right! For the Games entry of the Calendar cycle we’re hitting up Cradle 2 the Grave! Likely the most unnecessary numeral ever inserted into a title. So unnecessary that after picking it up from my local public library my wife asked me “Have you already seen the first one?” I had to inform her that this was the first one and that the 2 is there for no other reason than to amuse me and Patrick (I presume). Let’s go!
Cradle 2 the Grave (2003) – BMeTric: 37.2
(Certainly seems like a “cult” type of film. A rating of 6.0 is genuinely solid, it is close to average for the top ten thousand films, and it is rising steadily towards average despite its critical ratings. Most of the BMeTric is from being relatively popular while being a bit below average.)
Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars – As an array of baddies and rival half-baddies pursue coveted black diamonds that look like oversized Chiclets, most of the actors playing these parts pursue their dramatically diverse audience demographics. Union is around for the demographic that enjoys seeing semi-unclad lookers, but even those viewers may have trouble with a script about diamonds with nuclear capabilities. DMX’s neckwear looks as if it could pick up sandlot baseball games from Radio Havana.
(This review is semi-incomprehensible. But some deep burns. The diamonds look fake, the actors are just there to hit a checklist of demographics, Gabrielle Union in particular is just there to get naked, and even then the story is too ludicrous for any of that being fun! And then he ends with a crazy dig at DMX’s (I’m sure very classy) bling. I was with you up to then Leonard, but don’t take digs at the bling.)
(People flying around on wires it might as well be called. Have to say … pretty amped for this. DMX sountrack, people flipping around looking dumb, diamonds, Tom Arnold. Kind of surprised they give away that the jewels might not be jewels in the trailer to be honest, but still, I kind of dig that trailer. All I want is to get excited for the film when I watch it, and this does that admirably.)
Directors – Andrzej Bartkowiak – (Future BMT: Exit Wounds; BMT: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li; Doom; Cradle 2 the Grave; Romeo Must Die; Notes: Primarily a cinematographer, known for his association with Sidney Lumet. He was cinematographer for Twins, which obviously inspired the BMT logo.)
Writers – John O’Brien (story & screenplay) – (Known For: Starsky & Hutch; Future BMT: The Dukes of Hazzard; BMT: Cradle 2 the Grave; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Screenplay for The Dukes of Hazzard in 2006; Notes: There is nothing about this guy and I fear his name is too generic to get many certain hits elsewhere as well. Going from this to two tv-to-movie adaptations though feels a bit odd.)
Channing Gibson (screenplay) – (Known For: Lethal Weapon 4; Future BMT: Walking Tall; BMT: Cradle 2 the Grave; Notes: Prolific television writer. Won an emmy for his involvement with NYPD Blue.)
Actors – Jet Li – (Known For: The Expendables; The Expendables 2; Lethal Weapon 4; The Forbidden Kingdom; Unleashed; Fearless; Kiss of the Dragon; The Enforcer; Once Upon a Time in China; Future BMT: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor; The One; The Emperor and the White Snake; BMT: Cradle 2 the Grave; The Expendables 3; Romeo Must Die; Notes: Was a Wushu champion in China training with the famous Wu Bin, and upon retiring at the age of 19 he went into acting. He apologized to Jackie Chan for taking part in High Risk, which has a character described as “a famous and popular action movie star famous for doing all of his own stunts. In reality, he is very lazy and lecherous.” … I have to watch this movie.)
DMX – (Future BMT: Exit Wounds; Belly; BMT: Cradle 2 the Grave; Romeo Must Die; Never Die Alone; Notes: A world renowned rapper. Recently though he is probably more well known for his legal issues moving through the court system concerning tax fraud.)
Mark Dacascos – (Known For: Le pacte des loups; Future BMT: The Island of Dr. Moreau; Double Dragon; Code Name: The Cleaner; Köshpendiler; BMT: Cradle 2 the Grave; Notes: Born in Hawaii he is a martial artist proficient in Wun Hop Kuen Do which he learned from his father. He’s studied other disciplines (including Wushu, which Jet Li is known for) as well, although is not considered a master.)
Budget/Gross – $25 million / Domestic: $34,712,347 (Worldwide: $56,489,558)
(Decent worldwide, but not great. I’ll have to look below to see how it compared to Martial Arts films of the time. That will indicate a bit more of what the studio was probably expecting, and whether the modest worldwide return would have been considered acceptable.)
#35 for the Action – Martial Arts genre
(This came right at the peak of people thinking Martial Arts were cool. Probably after the Matrix in 1999. The genre has basically died, but this is getting me more interested in looking into it as an “educational” opportunity. Like slashers and westerns, martial arts films never held much appeal for me, but learning the tropes and how they tick could be pretty fun. This scored around Street Fighter unfortunately.)
#15 for the Action – Wire-Fu genre
(Just above The Musketeer! The genre literally began with The Matrix and died out five years later. One would assume that is because wire work has been replaced by green screen and other cheaper techniques. What a time to be alive!)
Rotten Tomatoes – 26% (31/122): Dumb and by-the-numbers, but serviceable.
(Wow. Thanks Rotten Tomatoes, now I’m getting excited …. In reality this sounds boring. Dumb is good. By-the-numbers if bad. Serviceable though … sounds like they’ve put together a movie which makes sense, which for a martial arts film I think is a bad thing.)
Poster – Cradle 2 the Sklog (B-)
(Real early 2000’s vibe on this guy. A bit too much going on, but I like the bold black with red features. Unique font and interesting spacing push it up a tad.)
Tagline(s) – Born 2 the life. True 2 the code. Bad 2 the bone. (A)
(Uh, yes. I am into this. Whether or not this has anything to do with the film itself is questionable, but I choose to believe it’s amazing.)
Keyword(s) – diamond; Top Ten by BMeTric: 94.4 Batman & Robin (1997); 89.3 Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997); 83.7 Super Mario Bros. (1993); 79.8 Littleman (2006); 70.8 The Spirit (2008); 69.6 Setup (I) (2011); 68.4 The Marine (2006); 67.9 Superman III (1983); 65.5 Thunderbirds (2004); 62.1 Bitch Slap (2009);
(Batman & Robin might be the most diamond-y movie in the history of diamond movies, fueling kick-ass puns throughout the film. All of these are great!! Setup is a crazy looking film starring Bruce Willis, 50 Cent, and Ryan Phillipe of I Know What You Did Last Summer fame! Just fantastic.)
Notes – The casting of Mark Dacascos was the result of a poll on Jet Li’s website where fans were asked who they would like to see him fight next. (The wonders of the Martial Arts movie fanbase … I don’t even know who this person is!)
Jet Li’s character only fights with one hand for a majority of the film.
Real life UFC competitors Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell were recruited by producer Joel Silver for the cage fight sequence with Jet Li. (oooooh yeah, Couture would co-star with Li in The Expendables franchise later)
DMX was constantly late for shooting. (HA)
The film was originally developed as a remake of M (1931). (weird, may have to check that out)
When filming wrapped up on time and the editing was proceeding at a fast pace, Warner Bros. considered opening the film in late August – a mere three months after it finished shooting. They later opted to release the pic in late Feb the following year. (… after watching it)
At one point, Arnold Schwarzenegger was slated to star.
Aaliyah was set to star in the film until her untimely death in 2001. (Oh no. Last seen in Queen of the Damned I would imagine)
2nd film to star Anthony Anderson and Tom Arnold. They share more screen time in this movie than they did in Exit Wounds, where they shared the last scene together. They also have the same kinda ending in this movie where they talk about their mom’s and who would play them in a movie about what they just went through in this movie. It is also the second film to star DMX and Tom Arnold after Exit Wounds. (wait … the Tim Arnold? Yeah, it would appear so. Double weird. This movie is going to be weird as fuck)