Black Mask (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 4 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Tsui Chik (Jet Li) is a quiet man who works as a librarian, but his life hasn’t always been so reserved. In his past, he was part of an elite commando unit, comprised of more than the usual mercenaries. The unit was known as Squad 701, a group of superhuman warriors and at that time, Tsui was known as Black Mask. He was involved in some violent encounters as part of Squad 701, but that wasn’t what he wanted, so he managed to escape. Now Tsui has tried to leave his past behind him and begin a new life, but the past is about to catch up with him. Squad 701 is back and on a rampage, declaring war on both the drug dealers and the police, leaving no one alive in their wake. While Tsui wishes to remain in his peaceful life, he also knows only he can stop Squad 701. But can this now peaceful man survive in such violent conditions?

I am a big fan of Jet Li, to the point where my movie collection has a dedicated section loaded with almost all of Li’s available movies. Black Mask however, isn’t in that section. As much as I like Li, even he can’t save every movie he is in and sadly, Black Mask is one of his disappointments. I won’t deny that some of the action sequences rock, but a movie needs more than a few cool scenes to stand out. Between Li’s skills and some solid choreography, the fight scenes do work, but they’re not on the level of Li’s best and some even fall flat. The movie is never consistent in terms of the action either, so some scenes work well and seem realistic, while others are so overdone they’re comical. Black Mask just doesn’t have the fuel to be a great action movie, even with Li on deck, this one rates as a one time rental at best.

Video: How does it look?

Black Mask is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I haven’t seen an MPEG-2 transfer on a Blu-ray release for a while, but that is what we have here. This isn’t a horrible treatment, but I do think this was either an old transfer or a rushed out one, as it isn’t up to the usual high definition standards. I noticed an improvement in terms of detail level and color depth, but the difference between this and the DVD isn’t immense. So if you’re considering an upgrade, you should rent first to see if the minor improvements are worth the cash.

Audio: How does it sound?

This DTS HD 7.1 option sounds great, with active surrounds and some nice power. The fight scenes have good impact, which enhances those sequences more than a little. I don’t think the level of presence is top shelf, but there is solid power and the surrounds are put to use often. So when a punch lands or something explodes, the soundtrack makes sure you know about it. The terrible hip hop soundtrack also booms here, while dialogue is clear and free from errors. So while the video wasn’t a huge boost over the DVD, this soundtrack puts the old one to shame. This disc also includes subtitles in English and Spanish.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes some text information on Wushu, as well as a trivia game.

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