DVD Review: The Enforcer Special Collector’s Edition

Jet Li is The EnforcerThe Weinstein Company will release Jet Li’s The Enforcer in a Special Collector’s Edition DVD on Tuesday, February 10, along with a variety of new bonus features including interviews with the producer, former child star Tse Miu and the villain of the picture, Ken Lo – as well as a feature commentary.

What The Weinstein Company really should have done instead is included a Cantonese audio track so I wouldn’t have had to sludge through a poorly dubbed English version.

Yes, this special collector’s edition is so special that it doesn’t even include the original audio. For someone who has never seen The Enforcer before, like me, it doesn’t do much to win me over by forcing me to listen to dubbed audio, something I vowed never to do after sitting through one too many cringe-inducing Jackie Chan dubs. Dubbing automatically pisses me off, especially when the voice-over actors speak non-accented English. At least have Chinese people with Chinese-accents do the voices!

In reaction to the lack of its original Cantonese track, The Weinstein Company released this statement:

Dragon Dynasty strives to provide fans with only the highest quality DVD releases, including restored video and audio and extensive never-before-seen bonus features created exclusively for the label.

Though no usable version of the original Cantonese-language track was available in time for this release, every effort was made to bring together the best elements in the world in creating the greatest version of The Enforcer ever experienced on DVD in the U.S.

My reaction to this: then don’t release the DVD until you have that audio track available. I thought we were well past the day of dubbing movies, or at least not giving the viewers a choice. Dubbing erases an actors’ performance and reduces the picture to a cheesy mockery of its former self. It’s preposterous that the studio would provide a version like this to Jet Li fans.

As for the movie itself, The Enforcer is just OK. Had I watched the original Cantonese version, I might have thought differently, but with a bunch of English actors providing their voices, most of the dialogue in the movie comes off as overly cheesy and ridiculous. Some of the dialogue, frankly, is painful to listen to.

Beyond the audio issues, however, the movie does suffer from a few unintentionally goofy moments. Some of the wire work at the end, where Jet Li is throwing his kung fu son at bad guys and then withdrawing him with a piece of rope, is funny but completely stupid. The son should also have been brain dead a few times over by the end, yet he always manages to come back to life even after being declared dead by a surgeon. My favorite is that after the boy “dies,” his dad’s first reaction is that, “We need to get him out of here!” rather than to set him down and give him immediate CPR. It’s just little things like this that add up to make the movie look sort of foolish.

That being said, there are some excellent action scenes. The final climax is non-stop and enjoyable, with some good, gritty fighting and stunts. For Jet Li fans, this is more than enough.

When all is said and done, The Enforcer comes off as a lesser version of Infernal Affairs (or The Departed, for that matter), with some good action but a plot full of holes. Unfortunately, without being able to watch a subtitled version of the picture, I can’t give a very good assessment. I’m still amazed that The Weinstein Company would release a movie on DVD without its original audio track.

By Erik Samdahl
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