Fans of Jet Li should check out The Master, an early movie by the Hong Kong action star. Li is the anti-Stallone, all sinew and smile. His boyish grace makes him seem almost weightless as he whips through his fight scenes ... more »in peak physical form. Though the story isn't as strong as the Once upon a Time in China series or Fist of Legend--the plot, about a student of kung fu (Li) from China who comes to Los Angeles to help his former master, is serviceable but generic--the action scenes are dynamic and give ample room for Li's sprightly charisma. Everything about The Master is a little cliché, but at the same time it's all much more enjoyable than you'd expect. The editing is brisk, the actors are enjoying themselves, and the direction (by dependable Hong Kong auteur Tsui Hark) keeps things hopping. --Bret Fetzer« less
"This DVD The Master, with Jet Li, is wonderful. Admittedly it may initially disappoint, but this should only happen on first viewing. It is a movie that requires attention to detail (as all masterpieces do) and knowledge of other martial arts movies and legends. Nonetheless, after first viewing (during which time the proverbial penny should drop and deeper understanding commence), there are amazing viewing rewards! In fact, if you should ever want to show off your knowledge to others of the deeper purpose of martial arts and/or Jet Li, well, this is definitely THE movie to have!First, though, to find the deeper story! So, to help the penny drop and to help find full appreciation of the consummate mastery of this Tsui Hark movie (especially its script), consider the possibility that the Master = Bruce Lee, the first internationally-recognized master of martial arts. On another level, to move closer to the story's higher purpose, consider the Master as the true spirit and/or reason for the practice of martial arts. Second, consider the possibility that the movie is an extremely respectful criticism of the post-Bruce-Lee commercialism of martial arts (and the resultant use of martial arts in street violence).Finally, consider the possibility that the martial arts people of the East saw a need to reinforce (via another master: Jet Li) the true spirit and/or reason of martial arts to the people of the West. This last point helps explain why the movie is set in modern-times and why it deliberately avoided the high-wire tricks; the movie is introducing to America the real martial arts mastery of Jet Li. In so doing, it is dealing with real social/cultural issues in a real way with a real and meaningful answer; for that answer watch the non-preaching and non-judgmental corrections to violence in this specific movie!Now, to match the above viewing suggestions to the movie! The Master opens with the master as a doctor who is physically healing and attempting to mentally heal/warn/correct a macho streetfighter type. In fact, the movie actually links this doctor (via the Po Chi Lum herbal medicine shop) to Wong Fei-Hung. Wong Fei-Hung, you may recall, was the master from Once Upon A Time in China: an all-but-divine hero in Chinese martial arts history who was born in 1849 and who inherited a herbal medicine shop call Po Chi Lum, a shop where he also taught Kung Fu! The dimension and breadth of the movie should now start to tease sensibilities into a state of alertness! Jet Li, of course, had already starred as Wong Fei-Hung in earlier movies (and how!) but, because there is a higher purpose to this story than pure commerce-driven martial arts entertainment, Jet Li does not play the role he immortalized for cinema-goers. Instead, Jet Li plays one of this master's students! Why? Well, in brief, Jet Li is paying homage to the mastering spirits and legacy of martial arts. Why? Well, in brief, that's the lesson the West needs to re-learn; otherwise, the martial arts can be used for violence and destruction, not personal and community peace and safety.At this point, consider the role that Jet Li plays in this movie: like his master, he is a healer (i.e. of the policemen's ulcers, which also suggests the authorities have not quite learned how to correct and stomach street violence! So, the movie has a social critique at work too! Truly, this story gathers to a giddying greatness the more it is meditated upon! It's great! Then, of course, Jet Li is a man of peace despite, and because of, his great martial arts skills. This is why he won't teach the Latino gang the martial arts (because they will use such skills violently for personal ends, not to help ensure personal and public peace; later in the story, Jet Li teaches them enough to protect themselves. This is a very fine edge of difference; but a critical difference! Jet Li is also a worldly innocent (as beautifully and humorously demonstrated by the one-sided romance). Of course, all Jet Li's don't-call-me-master positive qualities are in sharp contrast to the call-me-master "bad" student's ego-driven mistakes (including the mistake of never having learned what the true purpose of martial arts actually is i.e. mastery over self and the resultant increasingly-perfected personal path to peace! So, as the bad student very capably shows, to challenge and/or kill a master = to lose directions to the true meaning of martial arts = to not be a master; regardless of physical prowess = to be killed by the self as a martial arts exponent). To become a true master (and, thus, find the invisible hands of non-terrestrial-power making you effortlessly invincible), this movie suggests, requires a full willingness to place martial arts in the service of humanity ....!Actually, enough ... it is time to stop! It will take a book or two to explain this movie ... it is great! There are problems for viewers, certainly, because both before and after this specific movie, Jet Li starred in some of the most sublime action/martial arts movies in the history of world cinema; nevertheless, The Master is also an awesome achievement once the deeper story starts to become visible! Be patient with this movie, it will reward ... a masterpiece is patiently and respectfully waiting to speak to you! Be warned: when the glory of the story starts to gather momentum, your eyes will widen and smiles will arrive like a thousand chuckling sunrises! A masterpiece of reverence for life and community spirit has been scripted here and, as is clear from the fact that he doesn't play Wong Fei-Hung (the master), Jet Li clearly demonstrates his accord with the spiritual values offered by the infinitely disciplined, fully loving immortal heart of martial arts!"
CAUTION - Disappointment likely
Phil Flores | Los Angeles, CA USA | 05/03/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This movie definitely does not meet any expectations. The acting is horrible, the plot is simplistic, the action leaves a lot to be desired. Not Jet's best work. I would consider this a D movie, let alone a C or B movie.Definitely check out any/all of the following: 1). Fist of Legend 2). My Father is a Hero (The Enforcer in USA) 3). Fong Sai Yuk 4). Once upon a time in China (all 4 of them) 5). Swordsman IISome of his other descent works: Hitman, The New Legend of Shaolin, High Risk, Black Mask,"
This movie is too basic for the skilled Jet Li
ruzzante | 06/29/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It was an interesting movie but lacked the Jet Li spark that I love so much. The story line was too straight forward and predictable. The fighting sceens were to basic and still Jet Li looked flawless as he proformed. If you are a big Jet Li fan then you should buy the movie but if you just a action fan you shouldn'n."
Very funny movie..really
Phil Flores | 08/26/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"i know that a few people thought this movie didnt have enough fight scenes or what they were looking for. you cant expect fight scenes every 10 minutes in every single movie he was in. if you relax and just enjoy a good movie....then i think you can appreciate this movie for what it is. i thought it had a good amount of fight scenes with great humor. i laughed through out the whole movie. for those of you who does understand cantonese would probably understand the humor more....but to those who doesnt...there is english subtitles. the quality of the movie is not that great...it looked like it was transferred from vhs..because this is kind of an older movie. this movie is about a sifu(kungfu teacher)who gets challenged by his ex-white student who had no respect for his teacher and wanted to take over. when the sifu gets attacked....jet li. his student from hong kong comes to america and finds out what happened and teaches them a lesson. jet li is awesome as always. this movie really showcased some of his wu shu style...his real fighting skills that are masked up by newer movies like romeo must die, etc. i wish hollywood would make a movie with him showcasing his real skills to the american audiences who have never seen his real fighting abilities. i love this movie....and i plan to buy the dvd. i recommend to all to watch even if you dont plan to buy the dvd. jet li is hot as alway ;D"
Don't de too hard on the film!
P. A Clark | San Jose, CA USA | 09/03/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Some people had strong criticisms of this film. I thought the film was entertaining though. Yeah sure, I'd agree that there was no wire work, and that the fight scenes wern't quite as spectaculor as his more recent films. But that dos'nt make it a bad film. It's set in the late eighties and in LA. Why should it have wire work? It would'nt fit. The fight scenes are filmed fairly well and look down to earth. The plot is fun and quite humourous. Especially Jet Li's American counterparts. Jet Li is his usually respectable self looking out for the under dogs. There's a skilled American villan, Jonny, with a signature late eighties hair cut. He does a good job of playing the over confident jerk. (similar to the cocky kid in the Karate Kid) There's several confrontations between Jet's crew and Jonny's student lackies until the finale at the end. In the end this film should be viewed as a fun down to earth Kung Fu flick. It was'nt meant to be the next kung fu master piece. If watched in the right light it should be a fun and familiar(if from the US and LA in particular) addition to your Jet Li collection."