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By Tom Meek | May 17, 1999

Like Jackie Chan, Jet Li’s stateside success — in “Lethal Weapon 4” — has spurred the dubbing and dumping of his previous Hong Kong hits. In this 1996 actioneer, Li is member of a secret corp of super engineered cops — a la “Soldier” and “Universal Soldier.” When the 701 experiment goes bad, most of the units are retired though several escape. Li assimilates into Hong Kong society as a meek and mild librarian and befriends a rough-and-tumble police inspector (Lau Ching-Wan). The rest of the super-cops, under the guidance of their nefarious commander, embark on an ultra violent campaign to take over Hong Kong’s underworld. To save his cop buddy and hide his identity, Li dons a Kato-esque “black mask” and goes after the baddies. The plot is pure techno-garble, but when it comes to action, the film delivers with an adrenaline pumping kick — Li’s fast and flashy stunt work is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Li is commandingly charismatic, Ching-Wan exudes a cool machismo and as the Mask’s former and present love interests, a bondage clad Francoise Yip and a ditzy, cute Karen Mok add wonderful touches.

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