An early vehicle for Jet Li to enter into the US
market, The Master is an entertaining action adventure. When a young
kung fu champion (Jet Li), arrives in the US to reunite with his former
master, he is thrown in the middle of a violent vendetta spearheaded by
a blood thirsty ex student. Jet must use his amazing martial arts
skills to not only “survive on the brutal streets of Downtown L.A”, but
to save Uncle Tak’s honour as well!
Those looking for another Hero, Kiss of the Dragon,
or Romeo Must Die, might be disappointed – this is b-grade kung fu in
all its glory. With all the elements you’d expect – the fish out of
water storyline, token love interest, an evil karate school led by an
even eviler master, and about as many plot holes as broken limbs, it’s
hardly Oscar material. With villains that dress in matching red
jackets, green tank tops and can twitch biceps on command, a lot of the
pleasure watching The Master comes from laughing at the film, rather
than with it.
The plot is all about moving toward the next fight
scene as quickly as possible - which is fine by me. I don’t need to
know the motivation for hiring an assassin to attack Jet on a public
bus, but damn is it cool to see Li fight him off and manage to steer
the thing at the same time!
The less than polished feel of The Master works in
Jet Li’s favour. Without digital effects, or wirework, the fight scenes
are carried by his remarkable skills. World Kickboxing Campion, Jerry
Trimble, features as the key villain, and provides Li with a worthy
adversary. The final showdown on the roof of a sky scraper is
definitely something worth waiting for!
The DVD features a fantastic audio commentary by Bey
Logan, a martial arts expert and published author on Hong Kong action
cinema. Logan maintains a critical eye throughout – identifying flaws
in the plot, highlighting, explaining and dissecting elements of the
film, and framing The Master within the career of Li.
It adds an extra element to The Master – on its own
an entertaining, run of the mill showcase of Jet Li’s remarkable
ability; but with aid of Logan, also a critical look at Hong Kong action
The Master: an exclusive interview with prolific Kung
Fu Legend, Yuen Wah
Crystal Clear: an exclusive interview with leading
lady, Crystal Kwok
The Insider: an exclusive interview with stuntman and
author, John Kreng