Death of the Critic

Why Did I Watch That? – Cradle 2 the Grave

Written by: Tom Blaich


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

Sometimes, I watch a movie and am hit with a sudden sense of realization or remembrance. “Oh man, 80’s hairstyles were ridiculous” or “The 90’s had some horrible fashion” and “Oh shit, DMX was a thing.”
Cradle 2 the Grave, as is indicated by its “2 Kool 4 Skool” naming convention, is a cool movie about cool people doing cool stuff: like robbing banks, karate, driving tanks around, rap music, and being early 2000’s DMX.

As a heist story, it is rather unoriginal, with X being a cool bank robber that robs the wrong people, and now has the big, bad guy coming after him. This of course means that the big, bad guy kidnaps his spunky daughter and he has to form an unlikely team up with a karate-kicking cop in order to get her back. It’s a story that has been done to death, but what if that unlikely team up was DMX and Jet Li? Now I have your attention, right?

Double twist: the diamonds that X stole at the beginning of the movie aren’t just cool black diamonds. They are also nuclear bombs (“2 Hiroshimas”), which makes complete sense and elevates this movie from a simple heist gone wrong to a story of international intrigue. At some point in the movie, it jumps the shark, as is indicated by the previously mentioned nuclear bombs, but also DMX has a tank, and Tom Arnold is just really trying hard to be hip and “with it”.

It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense (why are there nuclear bomb/diamonds (“2 Hiroshimas”) just sitting in a jewelry exchange at the beginning of the movie. Why does Tom Arnold have a tank?) and it ends with Jet Li shoving a shard of supercharged diamond/nuclear material (“2 Hiroshimas”) down the throat of The Chairman from
Iron Chef America, which, instead of triggering a nuclear explosion (which would have been way cooler), melts his face like he was an extra in The Raiders of the Lost Ark.

This movie is better than it has any right to be, with rather good practical effects, a decent hip-hop/rap soundtrack, and Jet Li kicking the ever-loving shit out of people. DMX is also there, and it is always hilarious to watch him try to act, but he did a remarkably good job (or at least a much better job than I thought that he would.) He brings a certain level of aggressive cockiness to the role that is hard to fake, and is mostly just DMX being DMX on camera. In the realm of weird action/heist/kung-fu movies, it is pretty good, but then again, I don’t really know of anything else like it.



Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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Images courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment

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