Bullet Points: Black Mask 2: City of Masks
What better way to kick off our WrestleMania Week than with Black Mask 2: City of Masks? This is a movie that not only features professional wrestlers (Rob Van Dam and Tyler Mane), but also includes a professional wrestling theme.
- How Do You Compete With Vince?: Professional wrestling’s success is based on attractions. When you have a hot attraction business is great, whether it is an actual wrestler, a storyline or a combination of both. For nearly two decades now, Vince McMahon’s WWE has dominated the professional wrestling world and really been the only major player around, but it is a good thing he isn’t competing with King (played by Jon Polito) in a wrestling war. King is mixing pro wrestler DNA with animal DNA which does not come without its share of side effects, but of course King only cares about the box office. And larger than life genetic mutations sell tickets. When Iguana (played by Andrew Bryniarski of The Program fame) turns into an actual iguana man, not unlike the Lizard in Spider-Man, and kills his opponent, Black Mask shows up and takes out the Iguana, and soon realizes something sinister is going on.
- Rookie Sensation: Andy On takes over for Jet Li, who played Black Mask in the original. This was actually Andy’s first acting gig ever and he had no prior martial arts experience either. But obviously the producers liked his look and took a chance on him. I’ve seen some critics online mention how he has improved in both the acting and fighting departments since this movie. Brilliant observation! I would certainly hope after doing something more than once, he would get better. But quite honestly for his first outing I think he performed well. If he bombed I doubt his career would have continued.
- The Bad Guys: King, the wrestling promoter, is really just a puppet in the grand scheme of things. There’s much more evil lurking in Black Mask 2. There’s Dr. Lang (played by the amazing Scott Adkins) and then there’s Moloch (played by Tobin Bell from the Saw series). Moloch isn’t just looking to mutate pro wrestlers, he wants to mutate EVERYBODY!
- The Trap Is Set: After Black Mask takes out Iguana in very public fashion, there’s a demand to see Black Mask step inside the ring. But when they can’t get the real Black Mask, King just shows up with a guy dressed up as Black Mask and tries to play him off as the real deal in order to get the real Black Mask to show up. This is a move that Vince McMahon has done to some degree over the years. In the 80’s after Sgt. Slaughter left after disputes over licensing, Vince created Cpl. Kirchner to try to fill the void. When “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka and the WWE parted ways, we soon got Sivi Afi and the tag team of The Islanders to help fill theat void. And when Barry Windham quit and went to the NWA, they just replaced him with another tall blonde guy, Dan Spivey, and he teamed up with Mike Rotundo. There was also the whole “fake” Diesel and Razor Ramon from the 90’s. Most recently, when the original Sin Cara didn’t pan out, they released him and put another wrestler under the Sin Cara mask.
- The Action: I am sure you read the part where I said Scott Adkins is in this movie. Rule of Thumb = If Scott Adkins is in a movie and there are fight scenes, you are going to have some high quality fight scenes. Black Mask 2 is no exception to that rule. But no worries, there’s more than just hand to hand combat there’s guns and vehicular mayhem too.
The action in this movie alone warrants it a much higher ranking than it currently has on IMDB. In fact, when I saw that ranking prior to watching this movie, I figured I had another “What Not To Watch” on my hands, but that was not the case at all. I enjoyed Black Mask 2 for what it was, maybe it helped that I have never seen the original with Jet Li. I’m not sure. But Black Mask 2: City of Masks is one I am sure I would watch again.
Here are a few more Black Mask 2 Bullet Points…
- Cat Man: At one point in the film, Black Mask is injected with some animal DNA, and like the professional wrestlers, he too will eventually become the animal, in his case a cat. So Black Mask seeks out the assistance of Dr. Marco… she has a unique bugaboo, in that she freaks out if she has to touch or be touched by a man. This is due to a traumatic experience she suffered. A strange trait for any character to have, but especially a doctor.
- RVD: The most notable wrestler in this film is Rob Van Dam. Also known as RVD, he was one of the most popular wrestlers in the legendary Extreme Championship Wrestling and had a successful career in the WWE once ECW folded, including a short stint as WWE Heavyweight Champion.
- Also Starring: Former porn star, Traci Lords, plays another of the wrestling personalities in the film. Her character is Chameleon. This was not Lords’ first foray into the action genre. She was in Blade with Wesley Snipes, Intent to Kill with Yaphet Kotto, Epicenter with Gary Daniels, plus she was a guest star on TV shows like MacGyver, Highlander and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.