Jet Li debuts in the American theater with Black Mask (not counting Lethal Weapon 4, where he was not a lead character) and falls with a thud. Bad scripting, bad dubbing, and overly gruesome filming cannot be made up by some really cool action sequences, leaving Black Mask with nothing more than a place in the corner.
First off, the dubbing, as mentioned earlier, is horror. For the last time, whoever ship these movies over here from Asia need to learn that when they dub people's voices, they should use someone with the right accent. In fact, Jet Li has three different voices in the film, including one that almost seems like a British accent (he uses another for his Black Mask guise, and then another for his normal voice). And while on the subject, his black mask looks like a piece of painted cardboard. Going along with the dubbing is the script, which leaves little to be desired for. There are a few funny lines but the rest is a bunch of crap.
Luckily, Black Mask does manage to save itself from complete disaster by having lots of cool action. But cool does not mean exciting. In fact, I found myself drifting off at times, including the final action sequence, even though Jet Li is jumping all over the place and kicking the crap out of everyone around him. The problem is that he, and his enemies, are super fighters, which means that they can get shot twenty-dozen times and still get up to fight. This leaves drawn out battle scenes that, while fun to watch, also end up being repetitive by the end of the movie. And even stranger, the cop (Ching Wan Lau) seems to get more action that Li.
This movie has potential but everything about it is sub par. There are some good action scenes but they cannot save Black Mask. Hopefully Romeo Must Die will be better.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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