Cradle 2 the Grave Preview

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

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(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.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3FKBdIA26Q

(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

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(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

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(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-)

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(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)

Street Fighter Legend of Chun Li Preview

A small note prior to this post: Last July we decided to take a look back at the movies that we watched over five years ago and choose a Hall of Fame class, five movies that we thought embodied BMT in some way. Perhaps they were particularly bad, or an example of a specific bad movie trope, whatever, something made them stand out as special in our minds. Since we didn’t do email previews back in 2011 we also decided to provide a preview for the movie as well. This is the third in a series of five leading up to our yearly awards the Smaddies Baddies. A recap (Hall of Fame speech really) will follow immediate afterwards to explain why the movie was chosen, things we loved about the movie, and things we discovered upon second viewing. Enjoy!

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009) – BMeTric: 70.2

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(I think this plot is a good argument as to Street Fighter’s lasting bad movie cred. A 3.7 is a comically low IMDb score, a score that, if this was a mere below-average or middling bad movie would have steadily crept higher as the thousands of votes flowed in since 2010. But it has basically just stayed constant around 3.8 since then. As I argued in The Wicker Man preview, it is the staying power that I think could be the defining feature of a good-bad movie. It is a movie people seek out, watch, and universally agree is garbage. And we have another one here. And of course 70+ BMeTric is nothing to dismiss.)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  Pointless new film version of the popular video game series finds pretty martial arts-trained Asian-American Chin-Li (Kreuk) spurred into action in Bangkok after her father is kidnapped. Sher uses all her wiles to snuff out the main bad guy, local crime lord McDonough, and his henchmen, led by the imposing Duncan. The 1987 game inspired a 1994 version which is Citizen Kane compared to this inept action vehicle, where even the centerpiece fight sequences are lamely choreographed and hopelessly contrived. When Interpol agent Klein yells, “Bomb! Get out now!” it would be wise to heed his advice.

(Doesn’t he say that at the end of the movie Leonard? Too little too late I would assume. Yeah, oddly a somewhat rare BOMB from Leonard within our Hall of Fame so far. I might not go so far to say the 1994 movie is that much better, but this one does stick out as a complete mess when I think about it. So maybe a cheesy Van Damme barely-movie is better than that. Solid hyphen game early by Leonard as well.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EctFEyCMDL0

(Wow, that was actually really good. Basically as good a trailer as I could have possibly expected for this film. Makes it out like it’s going to be non-stop action street fights between characters you love. I was jazzed by the end. Am I sure this is a terrible film? Looks great.)

Directors – Andrzej Bartkowiak – (BMT: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li; Doom; Exit Wounds; Cradle 2 the Grave; Romeo Must Die; Notes: It just occurred to me that if you take Exit Wounds (DMX), Cradle 2 the Grave (DMX, Jet Li), and Romeo Must Die (Jet Li) you get a nice little chain reaction. I wish Jet Li and Seagal had been in a movie. We’ve seen Doom and Romeo Must Die, but finishing his filmography is a must. He is more well known as a cinematographer and his collaborations with Sidney Lumet.)

Writers – Justin Marks (screenplay) – (Known For: The Jungle Book; BMT: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li; Notes: Kind of fascinating career just because he wrote Street Fighter for release in 2009, and then didn’t write another feature until 2016 with The Jungle Book. He now is well on his way, with Jungle Book 2, Top Gun 2, Shadow of the Colossus (video game adaptation), and FBP Federal Bureau of Physics (comic book adaptation) in production. I’d be willing to bet three of those will be BMT or borderline, can you guess which ones? I am stunned this movie had a single credited writer.)

Actors – Kristin Kreuk – (Known For: EuroTrip; BMT: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li; Ecstasy; Notes: One of her first roles was as the ex-girlfriend Fiona in EuroTrip, otherwise she’s stuck to mostly television (like Smallville). She is Canadian and has a purple belt in karate.)

Neal McDonough – (Known For: Greater; Captain America: The First Avenger; Minority Report; RED 2; Star Trek: First Contact; Flags of Our Fathers; Darkman; Ravenous; Traitor; BMT: I Know Who Killed Me (BMT); Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (BMT); Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (BMT); Fire Down Below (BMT); Timeline (BMT); The Hitcher; 88 Minutes (BMT); Angels in the Outfield; Walking Tall; Telling You; The Last Time; Three Wishes; The Guardian (BMT); Notes: BMT legend having been in seven BMT films in our first six years, pretty good rate. He’s from Barnstable, Massachusetts of all places! Studied in London. I’m loving this guy, do your thing Neal.)

Michael Clarke Duncan – (Known For: The Green Mile; Planet of the Apes; Sin City; The Island; Kung Fu Panda; Friday; Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby; Daredevil; The Scorpion King; The Whole Nine Yards; The Last Mimzy; Cats & Dogs; Bulworth; Redemption Road; BMT: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li; Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore; Green Lantern; Breakfast of Champions; Racing Stripes; D.E.B.S.; Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins; The Underground Comedy Movie; See Spot Run; Delgo; Slipstream; School for Scoundrels; A Night at the Roxbury; The Players Club; Armageddon; The Slammin’ Salmon; Brother Bear; Notes: Sadly died a few years ago from complications related to a heart attack. My favorite note from his IMDb page: On July 12, 1979, during the Disco Demolition Night fiasco at Comiskey park, Duncan ran onto the field and slid into third base. Ha!)

Budget/Gross – $50 million / Domestic: $8,742,261 (Worldwide: $12,764,201)

(A complete and utter disaster. If that budget is correct this would probably be one of the biggest bombs of that year, and only is saved a bit from being a legend by “only” having a $50 million dollar budget. To be frank I don’t really believe that, at least some of it has to be exaggeration for tax reasons.)

#95 for the Action – Martial Arts genre

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(This plot is actually kind of sad. Initial thoughts: The 90s boom is basically people like Seagal and Van Damme. Then there was a little dip before Jackie Chan ushered in another foreign / comedy boom for the genre. This came right in the final gasp there with Rush Hour 3 and Transporter 3 kind of having the genre die off. Now … is it possible that martial arts has been relegated to VOD? Are we entering an era of whole genres being shunned from theatrical release in favor of tentpoles? It makes me a bit sad, but then again I can’t think of a situation in which I would personally go and see a martial arts film in theaters. Crouching Tiger might literally have been the only one I’ve ever seen in theaters to be honest. This movie is below Dragonball: Evolution on that chart … I’ll let that be a closing statement of sorts.)

#63 for the Action Heroine genre

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(THIS MOVIE IS BELOW CUTTHROAT ISLAND ON THAT CHART. That movie literally destroyed a production company! That giant peak around 2005: Lara Croft 2, Underworld, Catwoman, Elektra, Miss Congeniality 2, Charlie’s Angels 2, Resident Evil 2, Blade 3, Domino, Aeon Flux, Underworld 2, Ultraviolet, Resident Evil 3 … that’s a lot of terrible movies. And note how little money they made on average! And naturally since 2010 the action heroine has been a huge seller for Hollywood. I wish I could say this movie blazed a trail … but it didn’t. It merely allowed Hollywood to get the garbage juice out of its system before getting serious.)

#31 for the Video Game Adaptation genre

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(We saw Warcraft this year, and Hitman Agent 47 the year before among several BMT video game adaptations. Street Fighter Legend of Chun Li sits right above Alone in the Dark the Uwe Bol classic … so not great. Video game adaptations still make less than the martial arts genre of the 90’s, which is unimpressive to say the least. Naturally they are looking to have that change over the next few years you would imagine, but this multi-bomb year probably didn’t help matters. Five video game adaptations came out this year, that is the most ever according to this chart. Someday there will be a successful video game adaptation. It will happen.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 6% (3/54): The combination of a shallow plot and miscast performers renders Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li a perfectly forgettable video game adaptation.

(Less than 10% on Rotten Tomatoes is extremely impressive. Doing it with over 50 reviews is incredible. I wonder who they are talking about when they say miscast performers … I’m so sorry Chris Klein. So so sorry.)

Poster – Sklog Fighter: Legend of Jamie (D)

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(That is unfortunate. A truly ridiculous color scheme and spacing. Glad we at least get a unique font that would make it hard to create Sklog Fighter: The Legend of Jamie.)

Tagline(s) – Some fight for power. Some fight for us. (B)

(Hmmm. My brain is telling me that I should like this, but my heart is telling me that this is terrible and sounds like garbage. Definitely has the cadence, brevity, and a bit of the plot. I think it’s OK. My heart is disappointed in me.)

Keyword(s) – gangster; Top Ten by BMeTric: 89.6 Catwoman (2004); 85.8 Gunday (2014); 82.7 Gigli (2003); 81.8 Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011); 78.6 The Avengers (1998); 77.5 Super Mario Bros. (1993); 77.3 RoboCop 3 (1993); 72.8 Striptease (1996); 70.5 Grease 2 (1982); 70.2 Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009);

(Well since we aren’t ever doing Gunday we will complete this genre with Grease 2 which has to be done at some point. Solid list obviously, but I assume a few films might be a stretch. There was around 1200 films that claim a gangster keyword (around that). All of these vaguely make sense, but was there really a “gangster” in The Avengers for example? Questionable.)

Notes – Back in 2003, Jean-Claude Van Damme was working on a sequel to the original Street Fighter movie titled “Street Fighter II”, for Universal. Several cast members had been hired to join him in the sequel, including his Universal Soldier co-star Dolph Lundgren in an unrevealed role, Australian actress Holly Valance would have replaced Kylie Minogue as Cammy White, and Damian Chapa would have reprised his role as Ken Masters. Byron Mann was also reportedly in talks to return as Ryu Hoshi. However, after a few years of trying to get the sequel off the ground, the project never materialized and any plans for a sequel were scrapped in favor of this movie. (Would have also been terrible. People try to have nostalgia for the original, but in reality it is also terrible and a sequel without Raul Julia wouldn’t have been much better)

A potential sequel with Ryu and Ken was planned but was cancelled due of the poor box office performances of the film. (Jesus)

This movie only has 7 world warriors taken from Capcom’s “Fighting Game of 2008” titled Street Fighter IV (originally, the game has 25 characters) with the legendary world warrior from Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors’ Dreams [1995] (also know as Street Fighter Zero in Japan, Asia, South America and Australia) known as Charlie Nash being a special guest to this movie rather than reusing the hybrid-character “Carlos Blanka” from Universal Pictures’s Street Fighter [1994], The world warriors that made their appearances are: Chun Li, Gen, Crimson “Maya” Viper, Rose, Balrog, Vega, Master Bison and Charlie Nash. The world warriors that are absent are: Ryu (who is mentioned by Gen once), Ken Masters, Major Guile (who is replaced by Charlie Nash), Blanka, Edmund Honda, Zangief, Dhalsim, Sagat, Cammy White, Fei Long, Akuma, Dan Hibiki, Sakura Kasugano, Able, El Fuerte, Rufus, Gouken and Seth. (All solid information, thanks IMDb)