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  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie circles around a charming young man, Fu Tianming (played by Fan Siu-Wong) who lives with his foster father "Iron", and has a "secret" double life as Batman-esquire "Black Mask" where he displays quite heavy martial arts. The heroine Sandy (Ritsuko Nagai) is a scientist who discovered a cure against BSE, and plans to sell this to the European Union.

    The bad guys are led by the witch "Red Goddess" (strong Cheng Pei-pei), although she always wears black, and distinguish themselves mostly by colorful hair styling. They try to kidnap Sandy several times, and almost succeed in the end - the showdown of Mask vs. Goddess on the airplane wing is interesting, though unsatisfyingly resolved. I won't spoil the end here, but it sure comes surprising, what with "three years" for those who've seen it.

    The movie is watchable in general, with much talking and some kung-fu. What struck me is that you never get a feeling in what place exactly it is set - doesn't look like Hong Kong, and written signs are cryptic or unreadable (the prison, the gas station, the leisure boat labeled "Jon"). In one scene, when Sandy is attacked in the car, she initially sits to the left of Fu Tianming, but I could not see a steering wheel with either of them... One indicator I detected was the message in the bottle, which was clearly Japanese. Car number plates in one instance look Swedish to me (?) I have seen such dystopia (place-less-ness) in older German movies, like Spione (1928), "Frech und verliebt" (1948), where I thought the intention was to make the movie marketable in many countries, without telling which it really is set in. But I'm always more in favor of some realistic local flavor, even if it's only stock footage.

    I bought a German DVD of this, with a supposedly "Cantonese" soundtrack really being Mandarin, and often crystal-clear. The German dub is rather annoying, switching between stilted and overly colloquial. But taken as training material for Mandarin hearing comprehension, this to me was at least worth the 1 Euro I paid... otherwise, not much to write home about.