Director: Corey Yuen/ Ching Siu-tung/ Stephen Tung
Starring: Rosamund Kwan, Charlie Yeung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Billy Chow, Collin Chou, Johnny Kong, Law Kar-ying, Simon Yam, Eric Tsang, Gigi Leung, Sato Keiji, Paul Rapovski, Ip Kwong-kim, Hideri Meiken, Sahara Kenji, Timmy Ho, Ching Tung, Frankie Ng
Country: Hong Kong
Running Time: 104/90/105 minutes
Year: 1995/1996/1998
BBFC Certificate: 18

Following the success of his Once Upon A Time In China films, Jet Li looked to consolidate his reputation with a move into more modern thrillers. A valuable calling card for Hollywood, the quality of the films isn’t always great, but they are all fun and demonstrate Li’s considerable skill both in Martial Arts and as an actor.

The main plot of the first film in the set, 1995’s The Enforcer (My Father Is A Hero), an undercover cop trying not to get found out, is familiar ground to the action genre. And amplifying the hero’s sacrifice by endangering his family is nothing new, but this film leans into the sentimentality and sticks the weight of the narrative on the shoulders of Jet Li’s son (Tse Mui).

The film is dreadfully uneven, but the dialogue can be funny and affecting, and Tse Mui’s performance is fantastic. His martial arts is of course exemplary, especially for one so young, though that’s not at all unusual; but his is a feisty, dramatic reading of the role that is never precocious. Jet Li is reliably brilliant too, both emotionally and physically. The set pieces are a little frenetic (scrapping with dogs and using Tse Mui as a yo-yo was a step too far), but he grounds the film with a balance of wit, charm and pathos.

Next is Hitman, possibly Jet Li’s most famous film from his contemporary action period and you can see why it translated well. I remember it being included as an extra to a documentary in the Hong Kong Legends DVD collection and it is the genre’s boiler plate for the period. The plot was typical of 90s Hollywood thriller; glossy with an overarching twist that Jet Li’s highly skilled assassin is actually a naive everyman. It’s slick, ambitious and eminently watchable, and the choreography is the best of the three films, each set-piece showcasing a different style. Unlike The Enforcer, Hitman doesn’t put its stock in emotion, but the casting of the marvellous Eric Tsang gives the film some class and a strong foil for Jet Li.

The set is completed with a scrappy curiosity. Dr. Wai in “The Scripture with No Words” has the strongest ideas and a fabulous cast, but also demonstrates a core problem with taking on Western fantasy. The production is too big to hide and needed Spielberg discipline to really sell the ambitious narrative. An opening scene has an impressive mechanical bull (even if it’s distractingly similar to Ozzy in Birmingham), but is no match for other tomb raiding yarns.

Still, it has a charm all of its own, especially in the original Hong Kong cut which presents Jet Li as both a contemporary writer and the star of his own stories (hence the scenes with the Adventure King and an excuse for them being a bit silly). The story shifts and changes according to his infectious inability to keep his own drama out of his writing. His assistants try to write it for him, pulling the story-within-a-story in yet another direction. The International Cut is just the Dr. Wai segments, albeit extended, but it’s a mess without the context of it all happening in the minds of a team of pulp fiction writers dealing with their own farce.


The transfers are all new, but differ in sources. 4K for The Enforcer, 2K for Dr Wai and HD for Hitman. They are all fine presentations. Hitman stands out for me, but that might be because the photography was more consistent anyway. In a similar fashion, Dr Wai features an odd choice of lens for the adventure sequences, I found jarring, regardless of the quality of the transfer.

Audio is a similar mixed bag. Only The Enforcer lacks the stereo option or DTS the other films have.


Most of the extra features are archival interviews, some quite substantial, but nothing new. However, there are new commentaries, all of which are worth a listen. Mike Leeder and Arne Venema (Hitman and The Enforcer) are wonderful and worth the price of the set alone.

Brand new audio commentary by Mike Leeder & Arne Venema
Archival interview with producer Wong Jing
Archival interview with actor Tse Miu
Archival interview with actor Ken Lo
Deleted Scene
Original Hong Kong trailer

Brand new audio commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng
The Smart and The Brave (archival Jet Li featurette)
Original Hong Kong trailer

Brand new audio commentary by Mike Leeder & Arne Venema
Archival interview with Jet Li
Archival interview with Simon Yam
Archival interview with Keiji Sato
Archival footage from the film’s première
Original Hong Kong trailer and International release trailers

Heroes and Villains: Three Films starring Jet Li
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