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Black Mask Uncut       review by Bobby Blakey

There is no denying that Jet Li is one of the best martial arts action stars of all time crossing over from the Asian film market successfully into the US. In 1996 he re-teamed with legendary filmmaker Tsui Hark and iconic fight choreographer Yeun Woo-ping for the superhero film Black Mask based on the 1992 manhua of the same name with director Daniel Lee at the helm. The film has gotten numerous releases and cuts over the years and throughout the world, but now it’s getting a fully restored uncut edition on Blu-ray for the first time in the US.

Black Mask follows Tsui Chik, a former test subject of a project to create super soldiers, who is forced to escape with his comrades after the project was cancelled. Months later, he is trying to have a quiet life as a librarian with a tough cop as his best friend. However, a string of vicious gangland murders begins that has all the markings of his former compatriots who seem to have turned to violent crime. Realizing that the police are helpless to fight these soldiers, Micheal decides to take them on himself. Donning a mask to protect his identity, Micheal must fight these powerful villains as the mysterious superhero known only as Black Mask.

On the surface this film has a great and simple story line that leans into ideas like The Green Hornet, Universal Soldier and Captain America while trying to be its own thing. The biggest issue is that it gets lost in trying to bring more comedy and silliness to it and less focus on the villains and plot surrounding the super soldiers. It’s there and it is the catalyst for the great action, but never allowed to push the envelope to step it up to what it can be.

I may sound like I am trashing the film, but I don’t mean it that way. I am a big fan of this film and what it is and just wanted more that it could have

offered. The reason this film works at all is Jet Li himself. He is great at playing the innocent looking front man that you find cute and nice all while still able to kick major ass. He is perfect in this kind of story with dual identities and would be the last one you expect. This lends the film to its strengths of his interactions with the rest of the cast in all manners of emotions and of course always on point with the action.

Where the story limps along it makes up for it in the finale act. Of course there are action pieces sprinkled throughout the film, but a lot of them are cutaways, fast wire work and over so fast you can’t sink your teeth into them. All is saved with the fights and action of this last half of the film where Li and his co-stars bring the pain with plenty of fast paced and brilliantly shot fight sequences. Mixed with the practical style and skill of Li and his opponents and some fun wire work you get the sense of the hardcore action and comic book tone that sucks you back in.

This is far from Jet Li’s best film, but still one I have always enjoyed. This new edition looks fantastic and gives you plenty of options with it including original US version, the uncut Hong Kong version and the alternate Taiwanese cut as well as bonus features including commentaries, interviews, a making of featurette and more. As if that wasn’t enough of a reason to pick this new edition up, it is a Limited Edition of 2000 copies only with an O-card slipcase featuring new artwork by Grégory Sacré (Gokaiju) and a Limited- edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by James Oliver.

Grab your copy of Black Mask when it makes it debut on Blu-ray on April 23rd from Eureka Entertainment. For more information or to place your order head over to

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