Hong Kong, 2002: Black Mask 2
Black Mask 2: City of Masks
Hong Kong, 2002
Genre: Action, Superhero
Andy On stars as Black Mask, the genetically enhanced supersoldier, as he must stop a duo of mad scientists trying to leave their mark on B City.
Although Tsui Hark returns to direct the sequel to Jet Liís 1996 sci-fi action flic, he and the Black Mask character are just about the only things to return in Black Mask 2: City of Masks. Filmed in English for the international audience, the movie is a huge mess of terrible CGI, worse dialogue, and confusing plot lines. Itís as if they had two completely separate movies, joined them at the hip, and then figured out that it wouldnít make any money, so they wrote in the lead character from a mildly successful film from six years before. To try and increase viewership, they included some C-list actors and a number of professional wrestlers. And lastly, to really try and sell the sci-fi and superhero angle, itís filled to the brim with half-assed special effects and downright hilarious rubber monsters.
Now while it would seem like you should avoid this film at all costs, I recommend exactly the opposite. If you love watching awful movies or using them for drinking games, Black Mask 2 is absolutely perfect for that purpose. Itís bad in almost every way conceivable, but in a way that is supremely entertaining. The acting is hammed up to absurd levels, helped along by the ridiculous premises. Speaking about the plot, the story is so beyond comprehension it almost comes off as a parody of itself. From a number of ridiculous coincidences to various gaping plot holes, it seems impossible that they took themselves seriously during the filming. The writing credits, aside from Tsui Hark, go to two writing teams, one pair thatís done a handful of small-time films, and one thatís never worked on anything before or since. The presence of pro-wrestling all over the plot makes me wonder if Jeff Black and Charles Cain wrote for professional wrestling storylines before dipping into movies, and then went straight back afterwards.
The only really disappointing part of the film lies in what should have been its biggest strength: the fights. Yuen Woo-Ping, a world famous martial arts choreographer and a veteran of the genre, really phones it in for this one. Iím not sure if itís because most of the fights involve pro-wrestlers or men in rubber monster suits who may be unfamiliar with the Hong Kong fight style, but even the final fight scene between Andy On and Scott Adkins seems far from his best work. Itís really a shame that the martial arts are done so poorly in this movie, since it definitely would have elevated Black Mask 2 from being just a fun film to make fun of to a legitimately entertaining flic. Still, unfulfilling action scenes aside, the rest of the movie is great for a night in drinking with friends. Of course, on any scale the movie is absolute drivel. The acting is terrible, the writing is stupid, and the visuals are hideous. That said, itís immensely entertaining to watch with the right crowd, and is well worth the three dollars you pay for it at the supermarket bargain bin.
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