Don’t be fooled by the nifty title sequence and opening jewel heist; all signs and integers point to the fact that Cradle 2 the Grave isn’t a film but a mere video game prototype. You’re a West Coast rapper with a million-dollar pad. Your daughter has been kidnapped by an evil clan of Asian terrorists and is being held hostage inside an undisclosed warehouse location. At stake are 50 some odd black-diamonds-cum-nuclear-weapons. With the help of your Taiwanese sidekick, it’s your job to kick some major ass in downtown Los Angeles. Save your daughter first, then save the world from nuclear annihilation! There’s no semblance of a plot to be found anywhere amid the non-stop jewel-swapping and inexplicable jaunts through parking complexes and underground fighting lairs. The overall randomness and lack of logic suggests that the screenplay wrote itself as it went along; not only does the film lack a discernible beginning, but you have to suffer through a good three set pieces before more lame political subtext is egregiously disclosed. Jet Li and DMX magically disappear from the tightest corners and duke it out with an assortment of thugs as if they were slowly making their way to the final stage of Super Mario Bros. No Bowser this time around, just an Asian super-thug whose about to find out what kind of power a nuclear suppository possesses. For the kiddies, a huggable black guy (Anthony Anderson) and white dude (Tom Arnold) have been added to the equation in order to tease homosexuals and play race cards. They’re supposed to provide comic relief but all they end up doing is calling sad attention to the fact that Cradle 2 the Grave is little more than a bad bar joke with no apparent punchline: what do you get when you throw one gay cop, MacGyver’s black daughter, a hoochie mama, four Asian terrorists and four black thugs into a warehouse?
Cradle 2 the Grave isn't exactly pretty to look at, but the transfer Warner Home Video offers on this widescreen DVD edition of the film is top-notch (a fullscreen edition is also available). For any DVD company calibrating a similarly crummy, unimaginative action film, use this as a reference-quality model. Save for some minor edge enhancement, skin tones and color saturation are remarkable and shadow delineation is impressive. The involving Dolby Digital 5.1 track makes excellent use of surround channels without ever coming across too invasive.
No commentary track, so settle for these five mundane featurettes: the tedious "Ultimate Fighting Champions" explains the logic and choreography behind the film's fight club sequence; "Choreography of the Camera" celebrates the director's fondness for shooting his films with more than one camera; and "The Descender Rig" and two other "hidden" featurettes liberally advertised on the disc's back cover ("Time Lapse Montage" and "Rear Projection") focus on different burdens faces by the film's stunt and special effects departments. Also included here is DMX's music video for "X Goin' Give it to Ya," the film's theatrical trailer and cast and crew highlights.
For die-hard Jet Li and DMX fans only. At least for those not prone to be embarrassed when a disc like this is found in their permanent collection.