We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Does anyone really want to see a touchy-feely DMX? In Cradle 2 the Grave—though a quick glance at the cast list suggests a more accurate title would be Exit Wounds 2—the rapper plays Fait, a thug by night and doting dad by day whose jewel-thievin’ dealings turn personal when his daughter is kidnapped (but not before he gives the tyke a bigass pink diamond to wear while she sleeps, clearly indicating that his street and parental senses are both way off). Fait and his gang (including Anthony Anderson and Gabrielle Union) steal and then lose a bag full of black diamonds, which are also being pursued by Su (Jet Li), a Taiwanese agent, and a group of Asians who tend to appear out of nowhere and be very, very angry. Wherefore the diamonds? They can be altered to become radioactive weapons. An interesting plot development—if it weren’t kept quiet until late in the second reel. In the meantime, you have a bunch of people stalking, kidnapping, and fighting each other for no better reason than plain ol’ greed. Cradle does boast the coolest stunt ever—Li dropping balcony to balcony down a high-rise with his hands, a feat both elegant and heart-stopping—but it’s over all too early. A ring-of-fire showdown between Li and a bad guy is nearly as impressive—and exactly the kind of over-the-top kitsch that the film should be full of, when instead gritty star DMX responds to accusations of “You’re crazy!” with a stern “I’m a father!” Director Andrzej Bartkowiak, however, abuses Li’s understated grace, often having him fight with one hand in his pocket—which is a neat trick the first time, but distracting the second…and the third. It would probably have been better for everyone if this had just gone straight 2 video. —Tricia Olszewski