Black Mask vs. Gambling Mastermind
Hong Kong 2003
Directed by Lee Bing-Kwong.

I have a very high tolerance for garbage. So it comes as something of a surprise that I quite simply could not finish watching BLACK MASK VS. GAMBLING MASTERMIND: not after shutting it off and returning to it a few days later, not by fast-fowarding and reading the subtitles as they flew past, not by cleaning the living room while it was playing in the background. No, I quite simply had to shut the damn thing off. It's terrible. Part of the problem, I realize, is the title. It just isn't fair to have such a super-cool title, then slap it on top of a sloppy, unexceptional, digital video production. But the main problem is most certainly the child actors who form the core of the film: Chow Chow and Shi Xiao-Long. The latter is the most popular child star in China, and a practitioner of Shaolin kung fu since the age of 3. The former is a fat, whiny kid who makes lots of open mouthed, stupid expressions. One guess as to which kid fills up most of the screen time, and screen, for that matter. What passes for a plot involves a series of gambling challenges with an aim to take over some casinos. Samuel Leung Cheuk-Moon is Black Mask, based on the character originated by Jet Li (BLACK MASK, 1996), though how he fits in to the plot I never did quite figure out. Maybe someone else can comment about how the movie ends to let me know, though come to think of it, I don't much care.

Rating: Not Recommended (Not Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on November 17, 2004.

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