Black Mask

1997

Black Mask

Critics Consensus

Stylish setting and masterfully choreographed fight scenes, but the story is low on credibility and high on excessive violence and gore.

48%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 29

50%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 22,226
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Movie Info

Martial arts star Jet Li donned a black hat and mask to portray a comic book superhero in this pulp action tale that gets the full-blown Hong Kong treatment from choreographer Yuen Wo Ping, who later designed the fight scenes for The Matrix (1999). Li stars as Tsui Chik, leader of Squad 701, an elite commando team of genetically-engineered super-soldiers. When the unit was deemed a failure because of mental instability in some of the test subjects, the project was disbanded. Tsui now lives quietly in Hong Kong, masquerading as a shy librarian whose only friend is a cop (Lau Ching Wan). When some drug lords begin turning up dead, Tsui dons a black mask and hat to investigate the slayings and learns that his former Squad 701 comrades, led by psychotic Commander Hung (Patrick Lung), are plotting to take over the drug kingpin's illegal trade. Among their number is Tsui's ex-girlfriend Kaelin (Francoise Yip). ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Black Mask

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (15)

Audience Reviews for Black Mask

  • Apr 19, 2011
    The storyline may not always be sterling in a Jet Li movie, but one thing you can say for sure: Once Jet Li starts rocking in his purist martial arts action, there are few more stunning practitioners. See this maybe a whole lot less for the story than to see Li when he starts to roll. What a butt-kickingly superior martial arts stylist.
    Lanning : Super Reviewer
  • Aug 12, 2010
    This is such a weird movie and I've seen my fair share of weird movies before. Maybe it's the combination of stylized action, gore, british dubbing and 80s feel to it. I really wasn't expecting it to be what it was. Jet Li looks like Kato from the Green Hornet and more or less is the character. There's really nothing that interesting about the movie at all, everything in it has been done better in other movies. It should only be seen by Jet Li completists.
    Conner R Super Reviewer
  • Apr 25, 2009
    <i>"I thought you were destined for greatness. But now I see your destiny is to roast in hell with all the other rats who betrayed us!"</i> <p> Heavens above, Hong Kong cinema is awesome. To be fair, Hong Kong action pictures are never especially smart or original, yet they are nonetheless blessed with a solid entertainment value. This leads us to 1996's <i>Black Mask</i>; a campy, entertaining Hong Kong action extravaganza constructed around a plotline which ostensibly takes inspiration from 1992's <i>Universal Soldier</i>. If you like action served up with a good story and interesting characters to accompany, though, you're shit out of luck with <i>Black Mask</i>. Directed by Daniel Lee and starring action super-star Jet Li, the movie provides nothing but high-flying, old-fashioned action replete with blood, explosions, bullets, mayhem, and Li's martial arts expertise. It's a solid, R-rated guy movie. <p> Tsui (Li) - or Simon, in the English version - is the product of a government experiment to create super-soldiers impervious to pain for an army fighting force. Once it becomes clear the soldiers are uncontrollable, though, Tsui and his fellow fighting machines are scheduled for termination. Unwilling to let his execution take place, Tsui escapes and adopts a new life as a meek librarian. One of Tsui's only friends is a police inspector known as 'Rock' (Wan Lau), who has started investigating a series of murders and attacks. As it turns out, these attacks are linked to members of Tsui's former unit (all of whom he thought had been decommissioned) who aim to control the underworld. When Tsui realises this, he springs into action as the masked vigilante "Black Mask". <p> The plot is pure garble which you will not care about, and throughout the course of the narrative a lot of proverbial clichés pop up, including the obligatory romance with an annoying female who exists solely to be rescued. It's doubtful that more than a weekend was spent working on this poor script. When it comes to the action, however, <i>Black Mask</i> delivers with an adrenaline-pumping kick - the amusing comic-book violence and over-the-top, campy action scenes come thick & fast. Jet Li's speedy and flashy stunt-work is jaw-dropping. Added to this, the fights were choreographed by the best man in the business: Yuen Wo Ping, who went on to participate in <i>The Matrix</i> and various other action films. Ping outdid himself here with a series of breathtaking, creative and ultraviolent fights that must be seen to be believed. Since a number of the characters cannot feel pain, they fight ruthlessly when they should be dead. <p> Li submitted a charismatic performance here, while Ching Wan Lau (billed as Lau Ching Wan) exudes a cool machismo as Inspector Rock. Added to this, Kong Lung is hysterical in his role as the commander - seriously, he's like an Asian Ozzy Osbourne with his yellow sunnies and long hair. Meanwhile, Daniel Lee's direction is adequate for this type of motion picture, and his stylistic camera set-ups captured the balletic fight choreography with consummate skill. Additionally, the film's campy nature is further emphasised by the cartoonish CGI. Equipped with (probably unintentional) hilarity around every corner, <i>Black Mask</i> is a blast, but it would be foolhardy to expect something to challenge your mental acuity. <p> The greatest problem with <i>Black Mask</i>, though, is the trite plot and at times woeful scenes of exposition, yet the spectacular action should distract you from these shortcomings (it's also worth noting the film was dubbed into English for mainstream audiences, and the dubbing is dreadful). All things considered, <i>Black Mask</i> is neither gripping nor meaningful nor emotionally fulfilling. It was made to fill a niche and give action hounds a fix, and to this end the film delivers something satisfying. If you enjoy a loud, blood-soaked good time, <i>Black Mask</i> fits the bill nicely.
    Cal ( Super Reviewer
  • Jun 01, 2008
    earliest jet li movie I saw...enjoyable martial arts fare..not to oserious subject matter..just watch and marvel at li's fighting skills...
    alan j Super Reviewer

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