Black Mask 2: City of Masks (2001)

Black Mask 2: City of Masks (2001) DVD Cover


4 Stars out of 5 Stars

Directed by:

Tsui Hark


Andy On Chi-KitKan / Black Mask
Teresa Maria HerreraDr. Marco Leung
Tobin BellMoloch
Jon PolitoKing
Tyler ManeThorn
Andrew BryniarskiIguana
Scott AdkinsDr. Lang
Rob Van DamClaw
Traci LordsChameleon
Robert "Bonecrusher" MukesSnake

Written by:

Tsui Hark
Julien Carbon
Laurent Courtiaud
Jeff Black
Charles Cain

Martial Art Director:

Yuen Wo Ping

Additional Action Choreography:

Yuen Bun



1 (US)

Video Signal:


Nobody is back for Black Mask round two except action choreographer Yuen Wo Ping and producer Tsui Hark as director. Does it matter?

Gargantuan brain in a jar, Zeus, sends Dr. Lang (Scott Adkins) out to retrieve fellow experiment Kan Fung (Andy On). Finding him will be easy because there are only a handful of scientist with even a dim possibility of being able to reverse Zeus imposed alterations to Kan's DNA. Scratch four genetic engineers. Lang and Kan show up at the fifth simultaneously. Glorious Yuen Wo Ping designed mayhem ensues, and its on to the next on the list, Dr. Marco Leung (Teresa Maria Herrera) in B City.

Meanwhile at the B City arena, nice guy Dan Martinez, AKA, Iguana (Andrew Bryniarski), beats his friend Hellraiser (Michael Bailey Smith) into a coma before the match and then goes after the audience. Oh, and he's also turned green and scaly and, well, into an iguana. Iguana carries Hellraiser's kid, Raymond (Sean Marquette), off to the top of a tower where a mysterious masked man distracts him. Raymond is saved and Mrs Martinez (Traci Lords), AKA Chameleon, is widowed. It seems Zeus has a rival, Moloch (Tobin Bell), only Moloch's mutants aren't as stable, in any sense of the word, as Zeus'. By chance, Moloch gets a sample of Kan's blood and realizes it's from a more advanced specimen and Zeus feels he has a use for Moloch.

Black Mask 2 has all the earmarks of having been cut for the US market. There is so little attempt at character development, I can't help but wonder if there is a longer version out there somewhere.

Black Mask had an "A" cast with Karen Mok Man Wai, Sean Lau Ching Wan, and, of course, Jet Li Lian Jie as Black Mask. Mok and Lau are both award winners, while Li is capable enough. Andy On looks handsome but little else, not that the material provides much scope, and by themselves Herrera's glasses did not convince me she was a world class genetic engineer. I would have liked to see more of Traci Lords as Chameleon, who had the only character arc and the great Jon Polito, who I would have liked to see as one of the mutants, maybe with a little weasel DNA! Apparently, Messers Mane (Thorn) and Van Dam (Claw) are professional wrestlers and thus ideally qualified to play amoral thugs seduced by moolah and savage brutality.

However, this is an action movie and as the story races pell mell from set piece to set piece, one is distracted from these deficiencies by the eye candy and never gets the chance to be completely dissatisfied. Tsui shoots Yuen's work with a coherence that is all too rare recently, so you can always tell what is supposed to be happening. He combines the live action and CGI with mixed results but there is always something cool coming along.

This is not a movie to be savored and considered after viewing but you might be telling your buddies about the bit where Black Mask rolls up off the pavement onto the hood of an oncoming car. Sadly, that is in the first five minutes.


Thumbnail of Snake (Robert Allen Mukes) going snakey in Black Mask 2: City of Masks (2001).
Snake (Robert Allen Mukes) going snakey (~15K)

Thumbnail of Chameleon (Traci Lords) blending in Black Mask 2: City of Masks (2001).
Chameleon (Traci Lords) blending (~17K)

Thumbnail of King (Jon Polito) is apprehensive in Black Mask 2: City of Masks (2001).
King (Jon Polito) is apprehensive (~19K)

Thumbnail of Lang (Scott Adkins) is observed in Black Mask 2: City of Masks (2001).
Lang (Scott Adkins) is observed (~23K)

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