The Enforcer Review
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Itís not that Jet Liís The Enforcer is a bad film; itís just that, with over 30 films to his credit, they canít all be masterpieces. This 1994 effort was released straight to the U.S. home video market in 2000, as interest in Hong Kong cinema began to rise. As with many Hong Kong imports at that time, it was brought over quickly and cheaply, in an effort to capitalize on what could be a fleeting fad.

The most immediate evidence of this is the fairly bland U.S. title. The original Chinese title translates to My Father is a Hero, and thatís a much better fit. Li plays Kung Wei, an undercover policeman with a young martial artist son (an already talented 10-year-old Tse Miu) and a terminally ill wife. Kung is assigned to infiltrate a dangerous Hong Kong gang, which immediately comes into conflict with Inspector Fong (Anita Mui). Fongís investigation leads her back to Kungís family, where she witnesses his wifeís death and promises to reunite father and son.

  
 
Directed by Corey Yuen, The Enforcer is bookended by some impressive action sequences, including an early shoot-out inside a posh restaurant and the final kung-fu-heavy showdown aboard an ocean liner. The film occasionally drifts into the ridiculous, especially in the character of arch villain Po Kwong (Rongguang Yu) and a climactic fight that sees Kung swinging his son around on the end of a rope as a weapon. For the most part, though, the action is fast and fluid, anchored, as usual, by Liís stunning speed and an equally impressive turn by the young Tse.

In terms of story, however, this is really Anita Muiís film. An incredibly famous pop star in Asia, sheís probably best known to American moviegoers as a supporting actress in the Jackie Chan films Rumble in the Bronx and The Legend of Drunken Master. She carries the middle section of the film deftly, showing as much flair for dramatic nuance as she did for comedy in Chanís work. Combined with her solid martial arts skills, it reinforces what a shame it was to lose her to cancer in 2003.

The greatest failing of this import is the complete lack of the original Cantonese language track. In the days of VHS, that might have been overlooked, but now thereís no excuse. While English language dubs have improved in some cases over the years, this DVD simply reuses the 1994 dub, and the lack of effort shows. A number of good moments are ruined by uninspired line readings or poorly written translations. Dragon Dynasty has spent the last several years putting out excellent reissues of Hong Kong films, so the deficiency is pretty glaring.

If youíre a fan of Jet Liís work or Hong Kong action in general, and you can get past the horrible dub, do give The Enforcer a try. Itís a far cry from his best work, but thereís plenty here to enjoy.


DVD Review:
Special features on Dragon Dynastyís new DVD release of The Enforcer include the usually solid commentary by Bey Logan, as well as interviews with writer/producer Wing Jong, an older Tse Miu, and frequent henchman/thug actor Ken Po. Itís worth noting that the interviews on these releases are frequently quite good. Most run around 20 minutes, and they often provide specific glimpses into the filmmaking process and culture of Hong Kong that might get missed in a simple making-of featurette.

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