Invincible

cover

Year of release: 2001

Genre: martial arts

Director: Jefery Levy

Action directors: Ching Siu-Tung, Chris Anderson, George Cheung

Producers: Jet Li, Mel Gibson, Steve Chasman, Janine Coughlin, Jim Lemley

Writers: Michael Brandt, Derek Haas, Jefery Levy

Cinematography: John Stokes

Editing: Keith Salmon

Music: Michael Lustig

Stars: Billy Zane, David Field, Byron Mann, Stacy Oversier, Tory Kittles, Dominic Purcell, Michelle Comerford

Not rated; contains PG-level violence and language

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Originally made as a pilot for the North American basic cable network TBS in 2001, Invincible initially holds some promise (or at least some interest or curiosity factor) due to Jet Li serving as one of the producers and having Hong Kong veteran Ching Siu-Tung directing the martial art sequences. However, it quickly becomes apparent that all this production really serves as is a cheap attempt to capitalize on the popularity of The Matrix.

Owing a bit of a debt to Highlander, the story tells the tale of Os (Billy Zane) and Slate (David Field), two immortals from another world who, for poorly-explained reasons, have been banished to Earth. A mysterious tablet will allow them to get back home, but at the cost of destroying the planet. In order to stop Slate and his Shadowmen, Os forms a team of his own with four elemental fighters. Sporting cool sunglasses and black trenchcoats and backed by a pumping techno soundtrack, they head off to save the day.

The initial setup is decent enough, and the fight scenes are generally well co-ordinated by Ching Siu-Tung. The production seems to know it's a bit cheesy -- there can be really no other explanation given for the horrible wig Billy Zane sports in the first few scenes -- and this makes Invincible a fun enough ride for a while. But matters start to get more serious (or at least they attempt to) around the mid-way mark, and it's here that Invincible falls apart, becoming too serious and plodding for its' own good.

Over the past decade, basic cable stations in the US has made themselves known for producing compelling series such as Mad Men, The Shield, and The Walking Dead that meets, and in many times, exceeds the standards set by network and pay cable fare. However, before that, basic cable fare mainly consisted of reruns of old TV shows and middling original fare that was produced quickly in order to make for cheap programming to put between advertisements for the Ronco Food Dehydrator or the Hair Club for Men. Invincible is a prime example of this. It's inoffensive enough for mindless fare at 3 AM when you're battling insomnia, but it is in no way anything that is worth making an effort to track down.

RATING: 4.5