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Jet Li collection

The Master is now available
with The Hitman in a Jet Li
collection DVD double-bill.
October 2005 SITE MAP   SEARCH

The Master
cast: Jet Li, Crystal Kwok, Yuen Wah, Jerry Trimble, and Anne Rickets

director: Tsui Hark

89 minutes (18) 1989
widescreen ratio 16:9
Hong Kong Legends DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 3/10
reviewed by Bob Neilson
If it were not for the presence of Jet Li in this film it would undoubtedly remained in the obscurity it so richly deserves. The plot is creaky beyond belief, the acting (with the exception of Jet Li and his co-star Crystal Kwok) ranges from X rated to Zzz, and the soundtrack, supplied if I am not mistaken by Murph and the Magictones, was obviously lifted wholesale from an early 1970s' porn movie. And that's without even mentioning the songs.

Imagine this: China is accepted into the EU and enters the Eurovision song contest. Cobbling together something that might grace the graveyard shift in a Chinese takeaway, but with Eurovision sensibilities, they manage to score nil points and are lucky to do so. The songs in The Master are obviously rejects from this process that thankfully took place in an alternate reality.

The story revolves around the youthful Jet who has come to 'Amerika' to visit his master - I'm not sure why and throughout the movie the master (Yuen Wah) is never exactly pleased to see him, even when Jet is hauling his ass out of the fire. On arrival, Jet discovers his master's herbalist shop trashed and the master gone. Without a word of English our hero is all at sea - like the plot. Fortunately the loan officer from the bank is also looking for the master. She's Chinese and very cute and suddenly Jet's got an interpreter. If only she had been a scriptwriter. She couldn't have done any worse than the unmotivated mess she finds herself awash in.

There's also an American kung fu master - he's got a mullet for god's sake - who wants to beat all the other masters in town. Maybe it's just for the hell of it or maybe I'm reading less into the story than is really there (though I don't know how) and he has a commercial motive. At one point his partner (soon to ahem! fall out of a window) tells him they are broke. It sounded like something about their investments going belly up but to be honest I couldn't bring myself to prolong this torture by skipping back to check on it. But I won't go any further on this tack because I don't want to spoil the tension for you as you try to guess who's going to win the big fight at the end. What, you didn't realise there was going to be one?

If you really feel the need for a Jet Li film, watch Hero again. This is Jackie Chan without the humour and charm.

DVD extras: interviews with stuntman and author John Kreng, leading lady Crystal Kwok, and the master himself Yuen Wah. Plus some trailers.

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