Movie Reviews 140 – Black Mask (1996)

Black Mask posterThe government has created an experimental group of super-soldiers, the 701’s, out of a group of law enforcement officers . But when the 701’s proved to be unstable, the government tried to kill them off. Tsui Chik, A.K.A the Black Mask (Jet Li) is one of the super-soldiers who manages to escape and now lives as a quiet and reserved librarian, all the while wondering if any of the others managed to escape, especially Yeuk (yes an unfortunate name when vocalized in English), a girl he vowed he would always be there for. He soon gets his answer when a rash of superstrength villains start killing off all mob gangsters. He knows his former group of 701’s are behind it, but is unsure of their master plan or why they are now evil. His best friend is a cop who does not know of Tsui’s past or his abilities, but he is soon in the thick of the confrontation with the 701’s and it’s up to The Black Mask to save the day.

There is lots of action in this one, some outright hand to hand combat, other battles verging on fantasy and occultish influences. The Black Masks chauffeur style hat along with the masked (ridged here like Ruffle chips) are unmistakably derived from Kato from The Green Hornet and the script rightly makes reference to that fact. But the movie also has a slapstick side to it mostly delivered with the help of one of Tsui’s fellow librarians, Tracy (Karen Mok), who gets messed up in the melee and has a thing for Tsui. Of course a movie like this one can’t be complete without an evil,long hair, sunglass sporting leader. Just don’t try to make any sense of what the master plan was about in the first place. Your head will hurt if you try.

Black Mask insert2

This is not the best of movies in this genre nor it is anywhere near as good as other Jet Li movies. But it does have it’s moments and damn that Kato look is cool.


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