My Father is a Hero | aka The Enforcer (1994) Review

"My Father is a Hero" Japanese DVD Cover

"My Father is a Hero" Japanese DVD Cover

AKA: Letter to Daddy
Director: Corey Yuen
Writer: Wong Jing
Cast: Jet Li, Anita Mui, Tse Miu, Blacky Ko, Bonnie Fu Yuk Jing, Yu Rong Guang, Ken Lo, Damian Lau, Thorsten Nickel, Paul Rapovski, Henry Fong Ping, Corey Yuen
Running Time: 100/105 min.

By Numskull

You know, for someone whose fame is based on his martial arts skills, I’m not seeing a whole lot of martial arts in Jet Li’s movies. I don’t deny that he has legitimate talent, but the Jet Li films I’ve seen have averaged one solid fight scene each. Maybe I’m just watching all the wrong ones. I hope so.

My Father Is A Hero is one of the more polished Hong Kong action films I’ve seen, and it’s also a bit longer than most (they usually run between 85 and 100 minutes, in case you hadn’t noticed). Unfortunately, the extra handful of minutes here doesn’t mean more carnage or better character development… it just means slower pacing (something which Corey Yuen’s films definitely do NOT need). The story flows smoothly enough and is not without its moments, but for the most part, it just makes you itch for the next action sequence (they’re few and far between, but not as sparse as in certain other flicks from the same director).

Jet Li plays an undercover cop (unbeknownst to his family) who is intentionally imprisoned, then must escape with his cellmate. The actual getting out of the cell part is ridiculously easy, but he then has to deal with vicious dogs, trigger-happy guards with live ammo, and an electrified barbed wire fence (after his superior simply tells him: “I’ll let you escape.”). Then, for a large chunk of the movie, his character takes a back seat to his dying wife, his confused son, and Anita Mui’s take-charge police woman. It’s safe to assume that body doubles are used in Anita’s action scenes (I’m not a person who scrutinizes every frame looking for this stuff), but there are some shots where it is indeed her doing the beating and dodging and so forth. I don’t recall having seen her in such a physically active role before. For some reason, it doesn’t really seem to suit her. Yu Rong-Guang makes a very unconvincing villain (take those fucking shades off!!!) who does little to add to our desire to see Jet beat the hell out of him.

In typical Corey Yuen fashion, the lion’s share of the action is saved for the end of the movie, where Jet Li and his kid take on the baddies and the kid gets used as a human yo-yo. One would think that this would cause more harm to the kid than to the people he’s fighting, but at this point, the fact that people are actually DOING stuff is reason enough to just enjoy it.

My Father Is A Hero receives higher marks for effort than most Jet Li movies I’ve seen, but I fear that’s not saying a whole lot. At least, for once, a movie featured a child character who DIDN’T annoy the living sh*t out of me.

Numskull’s Rating: 5/10

By James H.

This Jet Li film has been re-released on video in North America as “Jet Li’s The Enforcer”. It is a good thing that this movie went straight to video, because if it went to the theatres, it would not have made any money. I don’t even think it is a good choice to have it released on video here.

Jet Li stars as an undercover cop with a family. His son is a martial arts champion of some sort too. One day Jet is assigned to go undercover in prison, bust out a gang member and infiltrate his gang (a la “Supercop”). The leader of this gang is this big, pseudo-threatening guy who looks like Wesley Snipes in “Blade”. But don’t be fooled by his pseudo-threatening looks, he is a bad ass, y’know, the kind that always wears sun glasses, even at night.

Things get complicated when another cop (Anita Mui) starts following Li’s character around, not knowing he is an undercover cop.

To be honest, the story did not grab my attention at all. It was uninteresting, and the characters aren’t very good or well developed, or even smart for that matter. Example: A gang of criminals is going to sell some passports to Li, no one brings a gun, but one of them has the good sense to bring a hatchet. A hatchet?!?!

Cory Yeun’s directing is nothing special here, and the fight scenes are about average. They seem pretty standard and uneventful, even for a Jet Li movie, with the exception of the final fight between Li, his kid and the baddie. Li ends up using his kid as some sort of human yo-yo, an idea that may have looked go on paper, but ends up looking ridiculous.

James H’s Rating: 4/10

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