Black Mask

Bomb Rating: 

You can't exactly fault the Chinese for not taking the first flight over to theU.S. and catching whatever Jean-Claude Van Damme film happens to be playing.

This film's story has been done about twenty different times intwenty slightly different variations. More or less, it's a rip-off of "Soldier," which is a rip-off of "Universal Soldier," which is a rip-off of "The Terminator" and so on and so forth. I'm sure I'm missing a few.

Maybe they haven't seen this stuff in Hong Kong, which is fine. You can't exactly fault the Chinese for not taking the first flight over to the U.S. and catching whatever Jean-Claude Van Damme film happens to be playing. However, the people who decided to re-release this 1996 film in the U.S. after dubbing over the dialogue and filling the soundtrack with gangsta rap tunes ought to be incarcerated and forced to watch Jean-Claude Van Damme films and only Van Damme films for the rest of their lives.

Tsui (Jet Li), part of an elite military force known as the 701 Squad has made a clean break, but he's drawn back in when the group turns up and starts killing off the town's drug lords. In case you aren't familiar with Jet Li, he's the martial artist from "Lethal Weapon 4." Logically, this leads the director, Daniel Lee, to fill the film primarily with gunplay and lots of close shots of Li where you basically can't see a thing.

That's not even to mention the worst sense of pacing ever. Li and his love interest, Tracy (Karen Mok), will be dropping out of a building or something and before they hit the ground, Lee has cut to the next scene. And how creative do you have to be to come up with an original outfit. Li looks so much like Kato from "The Green Hornet" that it's mentioned in the script. The actual mask looks like a piece of grating you put around trees to keep squirrels from climbing up them. That's either the result of a ridiculously low budget or a bunch of filmmakers with the creative energy of clams. But maybe there were nuts in Li's hair. Who knows?

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