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Review Exit Wounds (2001) and Review Cradle 2 the Grave (2003)

genre: action, crime, martial arts

Both of these films are directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak and produced by Joel Silver. Both of them feature martial artists super stars in an urban setting. And both of them look and feel similar. But, I can't believe I am saying this but the one with Steven Seagal is a lot better than Cradle 2 the Grave. It's not that hard to confuse these films with each other. Seeing how many of the cast members of Exit Wounds return in Cradle 2 the Grave. Perhaps they were under the impression that it would help the film sell better or maybe it was intended to confuse you since Cradle 2 the Grave is absolutely horrendous and they wanted to soften the blow somehow. More about Cradle later. 

Let's talk about Exit Wounds. It's not a masterpiece by any means. However it's pretty straightforward and packed with good action scenes. I wished I could say they are memorable. But they are solid to entertaining. Seeing how Steven Seagal can't even be bothered to punch himself these days it's fun to watch him do most of his own fighting and shooting. I think they were trying to model Steven after the typical Eighties heroes action stars. The loner type who was loved and hated and trouble always seem to follow them. Most of the actors who portrayed these characters had wit or charm to sell those roles. Steven Seagal absolutely lacks any sense of humour or the intelligence to be self deprecating and therefore many of his quips don't arrive. That in itself could be seen as funny. Still his blatant refusal to poke fun at himself is proof of his big ego and ultimately one of the main reasons why Exit Wounds arguably his is last decent big film he ever made.  

The plot is your typical cop flick where Steven Seagal fights crime and corruption. It's the least interesting especially when DMX is involved. I won't spoil what he is supposed to represent but it's ridiculous and stupid. In my opinion they just waste a little too much time on the plot which you will notice since then it does feel like the film has halted. It also wastes a lot of the talent who are involved. A shame if you ask me. Thank god for the numerous action scenes since they do keep things fun and entertaining.

Overall Exit Wounds is entertaining and will be worth your time especially if you realize that this is the last decent flick Steven Seagal has ever made. 

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As I stated earlier Cradle 2 the Grave is the worst of the two. On paper it should have been better. Biggest problem though is obvious. In their infinite wisdom DMX is the lead instead of Jet Li.

In comparison you will see DMX do more action wise then Jet Li. How anyone could think that would be smart is beyond me. First of all, DMX can barely act. He clearly has no martial arts skills whatsoever. And he is very bad at choreography. To make matters worse DMX's crew consists of Anthony Anderson and Gabrielle Union. They are supposed to be a super tight and elite team of thieves. It's comedy capers most of the time. Perhaps in their minds they might have seemed the ultra coolest. In reality they come across as a bunch of thugs who have been extremely lucky all this time. Second, why is the focus on DMX if you have Jet Li and Mark Dacascos at your disposal? The film should have been about them. Now both of them are secondary characters who only are there in service of DMX's story line. It's downright insulting and stupid. 

There is one big action sequence where Jet Li is put against several known MMA fighters (for example Randy Couture and Chuck Lidell). It's a sample of what could have been if the story revolved about him. Although the way the scene is edited all of the epicness is diminished and is nothing but a joke. Jet Li even throws a midget to emphasize there is nothing truly at stake. I don't get it. Why did Jet Li even agree to be in this film? I would have enjoyed the scene more had it started out as a joke but where increasingly the odds would be stacked against him but he comes out a winner anyway. This scene is like all the other action scenes in this film. None of them feel like there is something at stake. The whole vibe is one of  a comedy flick where you aren't supposed to take things seriously. And it just doesn't work since there aren't any jokes or gags to back that notion up. Great. So now you have a comedy flick without the jokes. 

Cradle 2 the Grave is utterly horrendous and not worth your time. Don't let yourself get fooled by certain Youtube reviewers who are fond of this film for some reason. They clearly lack taste.

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