Friday, August 25, 2017

Black Mask

Black Mask Starring Jett Li, Directed by Daniel Lee (1996). 

After compiling the list on, I noticed that we've neglected hordes of titles in the DR catalog, especially the Hong Kong action ones. I'm thinking we might even throw together a special tribute week. 

So, that's what inspired me to review this tepid, run of the mill, Matrix-y yawn-fest. This besides the abysmally disappointing Heroic Trio is the most widely viewed Hong Kong flick in the bootleg catalog and both are usually very easy to find. When this Jett Li vehicle showed up on STARZ, I figured it would fun to check out. I know I've had a more torturous time getting through a flick before (this one was even dubbed, with no white on white subs), so why did I just find it bland?

The brilliant Tsui Hark is in the producer chair but his usual action packed flicks and gory attributes that make his films so incredible are absent here. The casting of Jet Li seems as if Chow-yun Fat was busy, I mean to me, he's not very likeable in the main role. There are human time bombs called 701s, they detonate without warning. The description in the beginning goes by light speed so I had to rewind it to figure out what the deal was. I'm not the only one, either according to Lisa Morton's book "The Cinema of Tsui Hark", "Black Mask wants to both revel in the superhero mythos and deconstruct it but the script doesn't pursue either idea further enough". There's even some sexual ambiguity that they leave unexplained, Jett's character gets all frustrated at his female co worker in the library when she comes onto him.


The score is pretty lame and it's peppered with some wack rap beats. Jett hides out in the library and works there. As a volunteer at the library myself, I know what a bitch it us to get hired, so I'm not sure how he just slipped by without a double masters degree. I was pretty alarmed by Anthony Wong's appearance, he sports a pony tail, gold teeth and a see thru plastic outfit, plus he wears only shorts as he jumps around waving a gun. It's pretty shitty that he just disappears because he really could've brought this film to another level. There's one odd part when the hero injects a girl from the library with some roofie or something and ties her up then she plays a video game.

this grill is totally funky fresh.

The action is pretty frequent but it's all kind of done in a mainstream "Keanu Reeves in a black vinyl duster" style way. The mask that Jett wears looks incredibly stupid but is reminiscent of the Green Hornet's sidekick Kato (obviously no one is claiming to replace Bruce Lee however, although millions have tried--see Brucesploitation). There is a yucky cyberpunk vibe to this flick that just leaves a horrible taste. I wonder if The Wachowskis were fans of this film, they made Bound the same year this came out. I have to admit, even though I'm not a fan of any of their works, I did love their Hard-Boiled comic book, I still can't believe it was the same team behind that. 

if you think I'm scary, you should meet my cousin CD man from Hellraiser 3.

I don't know what people see in Jett Li, he has no acting range and there's always bits of skin hanging off his lips, I wonder how many actors audition for his role in The Expendables 2. Another thing I don't understand about the subplot is why would the main character retire from being a librarian, that's a pretty cushy job, why risk your life everyday instead? Wong's character checks out and gets replaced by this long-haired religious weirdo duster wearing goofy John Lennon glasses. Sometimes this movie comes off like a really warped episode of Red Shoe Diaries especially the music. I would say skip it and watch a really horny episode of Three's Company instead, a total snoozefest!


this just looks like a new fetish in the works to me.

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