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By Herb Kane | March 27, 2003

CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Phil Villarreal (Arizona Daily Star), Richard Roeper (“Ebert & Roeper” – Buena Vista TV), Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), Kevin Carr (, John Monaghan (Detroit Free Press), Jeffrey Westhoff (Northwest Herald), Cary Darling (Miami Herald)
* * (out of 5 stars)
Jet Li has a powerful screen presence as a martial arts action character, but he needs to find a movie powerful enough to justify our presence.
“Cradle 2 the Grave” is a movie about a robbery gone bad. A gang leader named Fait (DMX) just finished a diamond heist and ends up with a prize – black diamonds. Turns out the black diamonds are also wanted by Su (Jet Li), an intelligence agent from Taiwan. Then a group of international criminals kidnap Fait’s eight year-old daughter and intercept the black diamonds. Fait and Su team up to get the little girl and the black diamonds back – and this brings on some non-stop action.
Phil Villarreal (Arizona Daily Star) said, “Yes, ‘Cradle 2 the Grave’ is predictable. Yes, it’s admittedly dumb. But if you don’t walk away from this one with a smile, you probably don’t like action movies.”
Wait a minute, Phil. I love action movies! This one didn’t make me smile – it made me laugh! But that didn’t come until the end credits featuring a discussion between actors Tom Arnold and Anthony Anderson.
Richard Roeper said on “Ebert & Roeper” (Buena Vista TV), “Over the closing credits, Tom Arnold and Anthony Anderson banter over making a movie based on their adventures in which they seem to be acknowledging that what we’ve just seen in this garbage. This is the most entertaining segment of the film!”
Roger Ebert agreed and talked about some of this “garbage” in his Chicago Sun-Times review, “Dozens of squad cars turn up twice in ‘Cradle 2 the Grave,’ however–once when they’re told a robbery is in progress, and again at the end, when a battle involving guns, rockets, explosives and a tank blowing a helicopter out of the sky inspires an alert response after only 20 minutes.”
This type of stupidity is distracting! Oh, and Roger? Did you notice that when the cops do finally show up, Fait and Su seem to walk around a myriad of police officers unnoticed – as if they were invisible? For the love of God!
Kevin Carr ( brings up more garbage: “Have you ever heard of black diamonds? Neither have I. Neither have the characters in this film, apparently. However, this doesn’t stop them from trying to steal a bag of them from an international diamond exchange.”
This pretty much gives you an idea of what the rest of the story is like – unlikable. “Cradle 2 the Grave” may have a dead plot, but the movie itself is not necessarily ready for a tombstone. Jet Li takes command of his fight scenes and he performs an interesting stunt that caught my eye immediately.
John Monaghan (Detroit Free Press) said, “Jet Li perches atop a high-rise apartment building before casually leaping off, breaking his fall by grabbing the ledge of each successive balcony, then finally stopping at the desired floor…one of many great action sequences in ‘Cradle 2 the Grave’ that almost allow you to forgive a plot as stupid as the movie’s title.”
Almost forgive? Not me. Jeffrey Westhoff (Northwest Herald) nailed it, “A movie needs work when its highlight is Tom Arnold and one of the knuckleheads from ‘Kangaroo Jack’ cracking jokes during the end credits.”
When Tom Arnold first appears in this film, he pokes his head out of an armored tank and you immediately think of ‘True Lies’ (1994). He plays a similar numbskull character named Archie. That name somehow fits Arnold like a glove, but other characters have weird names like Jet Li as Su and DMX as Fait. The title of the movie is even worse!
Cary Darling (Miami Herald) summed the movie up best: “Still, by the time the credits roll, the realization sets in: ‘Cradle 2 the Grave’ may not be dead on arrival but it’s certainly on life support.”
If I wasn’t the Critic Doctor, I’d pull the plug.

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