Kiss of the Dragon

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Kiss of the Dragon
Kiss of the dragon poster.jpg
Theatrical teaser poster
Directed byChris Nahon
Produced byLuc Besson
Jet Li
Steve Chasman
Happy Walters
Screenplay byLuc Besson
Robert Mark Kamen
Story byJet Li
StarringJet Li
Bridget Fonda
Tchéky Karyo
Music byCraig Armstrong
Chino XL
CinematographyThierry Arbogast
Edited byMarco Cave
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
6 July 2001 (2001-07-06)
(United States)
  • 1 August 2001 (2001-08-01)
Running time
98 minutes
Budget$25 million[1]
Box office$64.4 million[1]

Kiss of the Dragon (Le Baiser mortel du dragon in French) is a 2001 English-language French action thriller film directed by Chris Nahon, written and produced by French filmmaker Luc Besson, and starring an international cast of Jet Li, Bridget Fonda, and Tchéky Karyo.[2] The film is based on a story by Li [3] and is one of Fonda's final on-screen appearances before her retirement from acting.

The film was made to satisfy Li's fans, who requested more realistic fight scenes.[4] It is notable as most of the action sequences did not use CGI or wire work; only two scenes required CGI enhancement and only one scene involved wire work.[3]


Liu Siu-jian (Jet Li), a Chinese intelligence agent, is sent to Paris to help apprehend Chinese mob boss Mr. Big (Ric Young), who is involved in heroin smuggling. He meets Inspector Jean-Pierre Richard (Tchéky Karyo), a corrupt and violent French police detective, at a hotel. Richard tricks Liu into believing he is simply providing reconnaissance of a meet involving Mr. Big. The plans are changed when Mr. Big is introduced to two prostitutes, one being Jessica Kamen (Bridget Fonda), an American woman, who takes him to his room to service him. While Liu and the rest are watching through the surveillance camera, Mr. Big kicks everyone out except for the two prostitutes. After pretending to seduce him, one of the prostitutes then stabs Mr. Big. Overseeing the events from a surveillance room, Liu rushes to stop the killing, but Richard enters shortly later to shoot Mr. Big and the prostitute with Liu's police-issued handgun, framing Liu for the murders.

Realizing he has been set up, Liu manages to escape from the hotel with a surveillance tape showing Richard shooting Mr. Big. Chinese liaisons are sent to France after the events to investigate the matter, as Richard makes Liu the primary suspect. However, the liaisons do not believe the story Richard provides. Liu manages to contact one of the liaisons, and passes on to him the tape that reveals the truth. Due to French police surveillance, the meet between the liaison and Liu is spotted, and the liaison is assassinated. Liu is then forced to flee from a horde of cops and even GIGN commandos. After Liu escapes, he is forced to maintain a low profile.

As he considers his situation, he meets Jessica, whose daughter was kidnapped by Richard to force her into prostitution. Liu discovers Jessica was the second prostitute at the hotel during the night of Mr. Big's murder. He realizes she can prove his innocence, but she refuses to go without her retrieving her daughter, Isabel. Liu decides the tape would provide the best evidence, and sends Jessica to Richard's office to steal the tape. Jessica manages to get the tape, so Liu and Jessica head to an orphanage where Isabel is kept. However, Richard anticipates this move after discovering Jessica has stolen the tape, and ambushes the couple at the orphanage. During their escape, Jessica is shot in the chest. Liu manages to get her to the hospital in time, and becomes driven to retrieve her daughter. Liu arrives at the police station where Richard is holding Isabel hostage, and fights his way through Richard's henchmen to his office. Once at the office, Liu rescues Isabel, getting shot by Richard in the process. To save Isabel, Liu kills Richard by sticking an acupuncture needle into the back of his neck in a forbidden location known as the "kiss of the dragon," which stimulates all the body's blood to travel to the brain to cause a painful death via a brain aneurysm. Liu survives the gunshot wound, and returns Isabel to her mother.

Origin of title[edit]

The title "Kiss of the Dragon" is derived from one of the last scenes in the movie, in which Liu punctures Richard in the back of the neck with an acupuncture needle at a "very forbidden" point on the body. The puncture itself, called "kiss of the dragon", traps all the body's blood in the head and causes side effects of quadriplegia, bleeding from the head's orifices, and a painful death via a brain aneurysm.



The director filmed most of the action sequences without CGI or wire work; only two scenes required CGI enhancement and only one scene involved wire work.[3] Wire work was added to one of the last fight sequences between Li and Cyril Raffaelli, in order to add clarity to Raffaelli's kicks, as he was moving too fast for the camera. Nahon had to slow down this fight scene, as both Li and Raffaelli were moving too quickly to be captured clearly at normal recording speed.

The French version of the film is notably different from others; it contains a zoomed-out shot of Tcheky Karyo shooting one of his henchmen in the head, resulting in a fountain of blood erupting. This passage was cropped from most international versions of the movie.


The movie met with mixed reaction from critics,[5][6][7] who thought violence overwhelmed it at the expense of the story and even a true portrayal of martial arts. The fans generally rated it as better than Jet Li's other American films (Romeo Must Die, The One and Cradle 2 the Grave).[citation needed]

Due to its violence, Kiss of the Dragon was banned in China.[8] Li spoke out about this censorship.

Box office[edit]

Kiss of the Dragon opened at 2,025 North American theaters on July 6, 2001 to an opening weekend gross of $13,304,027 ($6,569 per screen).[9] It went on to a total North American gross of $36,845,124. Its total worldwide box office gross is $64,437,847.


Kiss of the Dragon
Kiss of the Dragon OST.jpg
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedJuly 3, 2001
GenreHip hop, Electronic
ProducerBink, The Neptunes, Daft Punk, Slum Village, DJ Clue, DJ Ev, Nick Wiz, Larry "Rock" Campbell
Singles from Kiss of the Dragon
  1. "Ghir Dini"
    Released: 2001
  2. "F**k That"
    Released: 2001
  3. "Adore You"
    Released: 2001
  4. "What You Got?"
    Released: 2001
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic1.5/5 stars[10]

The soundtrack was released on July 3, 2001 through Virgin Records, and consisted mainly of a blend of hip hop and electronic music.

  1. "Mystikal Fever" – 3:49 (Mystikal)
  2. "Lapdance" – 3:33 (N.E.R.D)
  3. "Aerodynamic" – 3:35 (Daft Punk and Slum Village)
  4. "Fuck That" – 3:17 (Bathgate)
  5. "What You Got?" – 4:19 (Chino XL)
  6. "Sing" – 4:41 (Mouse)
  7. "Cheatin'" – 3:46 (Liberty City)
  8. "Don't Blame It on I" – 4:05 (The Congos)
  9. "Ghir Dini" – 3:59 (Assia)
  10. "As If You Said Nothing" – 4:38 (Craig Armstrong)
  11. "Adore You" – 4:21 (Lisa Barbuscia)


  1. ^ a b "Kiss of the Dragon (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
  2. ^ "Kiss of the Dragon". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  3. ^ a b c James Plath. "Blu-ray review of Kiss of the Dragon". Archived from the original on 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
  4. ^ Noxon, Christopher (2001-07-04). "Taking a Fast-Track Career in Stride". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  5. ^ Elder, Robert K (2001-07-06). "The French misconnection". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  6. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (2001-07-06). "FILM REVIEW; In a Tough Spot in Paris? Fight Your Way Out, Limbs Flying". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  7. ^ "Kung Faux? Martial Arts Get Lost In The Translation". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  8. ^ "Jet Li attacks China film censors". BBC. 2007-08-20. Retrieved 2010-09-25.
  9. ^ Welkos, Robert W. (2001-07-10). "Weekend Box Office; There's No Scaring 'Cats & Dogs'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
  10. ^ Taylor, Jason D.. Kiss of the Dragon at AllMusic

External links[edit]