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An Introduction To
Hong Kong Legends

cast: Jet Li, Gigi Leung

director: Tung Wai

100 minutes (18) 1998
widescreen ratio 16:9
Hong Kong Legends DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Jeff Young
For the uninitiated, this cut-price (selling at less than four quid!) promotional disc may prove a revelation. It's a glossy showcase for the HKL label - so popular now with genre fans and aficionados of martial arts cinema, featuring plenty of DVD extras in addition to a full-length feature, The Hitman, starring Jet Li.
   The Hitman is a hugely entertaining comedy thriller about an infallible expert assassin, known as the Angel of Death, who only kills major criminals ("evil men who deserve to die") and works entirely for free, so he's become the scourge of the Hong Kong underworld. After seeing this masked vigilante do his thing in the opening scenes, we are introduced to Fred (Jet Li), an illegal Chinese immigrant, living in poverty in Hong Kong, and trying to make his living as a killer. Problem is, that Fred's a nice guy at heart and doesn't really want to hurt anyone. Then Fred meets Norman, a rotund conman who recognises Fred's kung fu talents and wheedles his way into our na�ve hero's life as his business manager. But Fred isn't as green as he appears, while Norman's bluster and bravado conceal his failure as father to his smart lawyer daughter (Gigi Leung).
   It soon becomes obvious that the Angel of Death is among the supporting cast, but his identity is not revealed until the finale when he fights and teams up with Fred to tackle the new Mr Big who plots to takeover Hong Kong's gangland. This seems like a Jackie Chan film at times, with lots of good humour and tomfoolery to offset the tightly choreographed fight scenes. Even if you're only a casual fan of Jet Li and missed this on its first release, The Hitman demands your attention as one of the action star's most likeable efforts.
   Hong Kong Legends have set a high standard for regular DVD releases that the big studios have yet to match, title for title. This sampler includes a featurette (18 minutes) that guides us through the label's catalogue, boasting of their unrivalled commitment to the restoration and re-mastering of many old favourites and rare cult classics starring the likes of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Sammo Hung, and Chow Yun-fat. Other disc extras look at the groundbreaking design of DVD menus for HKL releases, and there's also a archive of trailers which includes: Iron Monkey, Zu Warriors From The Magic Mountain, Naked Killer, The Scorpion King, 2000 AD, and Magnificent Warriors.