Jewel thief Anthony Fait’s daughter is kidnapped by international weapons dealers after he steals a load of black diamonds, which turn out to be weapons in disguise. Can he stop them and get his daughter back before it’s too late? Find out in… Cradle 2 the Grave.
How?! Anthony Fait is a thief looking for that last big score. Breaking into a high security diamond vault, he and his comrades make off with millions in jewels and some special black diamonds meant for a mysterious buyer. They begin to sense something is up when they find themselves tracked by a Taiwanese cop, Officer Su, and their contact for the sale is killed. Uh oh! Aiming to get rid of the loot and leave the country, Fait goes to get them assessed for sale. This move quickly goes awry when a group of gangsters, led by Jump Chambers, hear about the diamonds on the black market and steal them, while at the same time Fait’s daughter is kidnapped by the mysterious buyer as ransom for the diamonds. This is getting confusing. Now out both the diamonds and a daughter, Fait tracks the diamonds to a strip club owned by Jump, but again finds that he’s too late. The mysterious buyer has already scooped up the diamonds for himself! Still no diamonds or daughter in hand, Fait has only one option left. He has to track down the mysterious buyer who turns out to be an international arms dealer. In a twist it turns out the diamonds aren’t diamonds at all, but rather a secret weapon capable of destroying the world. They literally all do martial arts, beat up the baddies, save the girl, steal back the diamonds, and shoot down a helicopter with a tank in the span of like 15 minutes. The end.
Why?! Money, babbbyyyyyyyyy. All about the sweet green for all involved. Fait never wanted to steal a secret nuclear-grade weapon (why would he?). He just wanted diamonds. The antagonists only want the weapon so they can sell it. In fact, if the weapons guys were just cool about it they probably could have bargained with Fait to get them back for far less than they were gonna sell them for on the black market anyway. But nooooo, they had to go beat up poor Tom Arnold. Agent Su wants to stop everyone involved.
What?! MacGuffin Alert! The black diamonds here represent a classic type of MacGuffin: the mysterious superweapon that the baddies want to use/sell and the goodies want to keep safe. As with all good MacGuffin superweapons the explanation of exactly how they are so destructive is mostly technobabble nonsense about stripping away protons rather than adding neutrons to a substance. While I’ll be eating crow if it turns out the screenwriter of the film was a nuclear scientist and this all holds up, I do not believe this makes any sense whatsoever.
Who?! This film is chock full of all our favorite characters. We have Tom Arnold as a pretty good Planchet. Everyone thinks he kinda sucks and making fun of him is a lot of his humor. We also have DMX and fellow hip hop artist Drag-On in the crew stealing jewels. They shared a label with Ruff Ryders and as a result Drag-On appeared in both this and Exit Wounds with DMX… weird. We also have famed MMA fighter Chuck Liddell in a cameo for a cage fighting scene. Finally, Chi McBride has a notable role but chose to appear unbilled. Can only presume it was because of the product. So that’s a Planchet, musician-turned-actor, athlete-turned-actor, and major unbilled role all in one film. Word. Up.
Where?! We know for sure it’s set in CA from early in the film when the bad guys ask whether a compatriot of theirs is enjoying their time in California. It’s confirmed to be LA later whether a local news network reports that Fiat is leading the police on an X-treme ATV chase through downtown LA. Rad.
When?! The aforementioned Chi McBride is stuck in jail but so rich and powerful that he’s essentially waited on by the prison staff. That includes a weekly delivery of the latest Baseball Weekly periodical which includes an article on the Expos, Marlins coaching shuffle. March 20th, 2002 article so the date within a couple weeks of that. C.
Like DMX at the end of this film, it’s time for me to walk away from my life of crime and send this over to Patrick who will give you the straight dope. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! This week we watched Cradle 2 the Grave, a movie that promised non-stop martial arts action in our faces! Could the long-anticipated action-packed pairing of rap-badass-turned-Hollywood-megastar DMX and actual-martial-artist Jet Li live up to my self-generated hype? Could I have added more hyphens in that last sentence? Not likely on both counts, let’s get into it!
The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – I dug the heist in the beginning and the soundtrack is jamming on multiple occasions. The sidekicks of Anthony Anderson and Tom Arnold gave a surprising amount of levity to the affair. The acting wasn’t nearly as bad as one would expect. I think I’d do a two-for-one! (Two-for one! Two-for-one!) First the Sequel, where we see Anthony Fait in prison after the events of the first film. He is approached by Su, who tells him Daria and Vanessa have been kidnapped by terrorists hoping to get him and Su to organize an heist to steal a cache of weapons and money from international arms dealings. The game is afoot, as Su breaks Anthony out of prison and the crew is assembled. Can the small-time crooks make it big in international espionage? Find out in Cradle 3 the Grave: Arms Race! Follow that with a Prequel which sees Anthony Faits helping his protege Miles get out of a jam with Jump Chambers. Recruiting Tommy and enlisting the help of Archie they attempt to make one big score to save Miles’ skin. Along the way Anthony falls in love, only to lose his wife tragically at Jump’s hand a year later (this is all post-credits) leaving him a single father to Vanessa. Daria turns on Jump and joins the crew, fade out. Cradle 1 the Grave: Origins.
The Bad (Sklognalogy) – The film becomes very cliche later on, devolving to wire-work action, ludicrous pseudo-science nuclear weapons nonsense, and ridiculous explosions. The final scene whereby all three protagonists fight is terrible, with only Jet Li and Mark Dacascos giving us anything worthwhile. Even then the wire-work ruins it, no wonder the style died out, it looks dumb in anything outside of the Matrix. I didn’t hate the movie, but it certainly disappointed later on. Sklognalogy is, and this could be controversial, Stone Cold starring Brian Bosworth. A movie I kind of dug, which is partially torpedoed by the fact that the main character is not an actor and comes across as cheesy. This is higher quality overall, whereas I think, ultimately, I liked Stone Cold more.
The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I feel like this movie is going to end up being the beginning of my education on martial arts in film. We’ve seen Seagal and Chuck Norris (in Expendables 2 only?) a bit, but have tended to shy away from what is, often, a straight-to-DVD genre through and through. After getting a thorough education on slasher films (which I plan on continuing), that seems like a logical place to look. The street cred is, not shockingly, low. The Rotten Tomatoes score wasn’t very low, and it came at a time when plenty of other terrible action films came out (like Bad Boys II). The claim to fame is mostly that this is the third in a series of films by the director which paired rappers with martial artists: Exit Wounds (Seagal and DMX), Romeo Must Die (Jet Li and Aaliyah), and Cradle 2 the Grave (DMX and Jet Li).
I’ll leave it there. There wasn’t any homework or extracurriculars to report on in this case.