When I think HK action, I think Hard Boiled, then A Better Tomorrow, then Once A Thief, then I think this. What all of the former movies have in common are that they were directed by John Woo, maybe the only director to start with HK action and move onto Hollywood, but he can't get all the credit from this fantastic era of ferocious flicks, the reason I think of his movies first and foremost is because he made it big; his older movies all received cult status as a result. No doubt they're also great movies, but so many others directors share the glory of these ominous decades; so many actors play a role in so many mediocre movies, but as a whole it's a generation of genius, skillful stunting and fights full of fists and firecrackers, many times just as dangerous as it looks, if not more. You don't get to see the failed attempts they cut out of the final product.
Tiger Cage is one of these classics from the vast repertoire of the gritty 80-90s, featuring a cast of common characters, amongst them Donnie Yen and Michael Woods, this time both with pretty bizarre death scenes... none of them as a main character. There's plenty of fighting, but more so there's shooting, scheming, intrigue; gritty action.
The main character is an officer played by... a guy who's eyes seem to be bulging out of his skull. He's almost too serious. I can't really find a picture to link to a name, so I don't know who he is, but I've seen him in plenty of HK action flicks before. This might be the only one where he has such a major role (the only one that I've seen, that is).
The story starts off at a drug bust. Everything goes as planned with one exception: the mastermind escapes, and he comes back another day to exact revenge on the cops who crashed his whole operation. The first one to die is a man soon to be married, and retired, and as the bride runs out of the building and the car speeds off in the distance with screeching tires... the eyes on that main character I mentioned open up so wide it's like... well they're wide open. My metaphorical mindset's out of whack.
The plot's a tale of relations, corruption and a drug-trade between HK and the US. As the viewer we learn who's to be trusted and who's not pretty early on, but the characters don't know, it's a cat and mouse game with intrigue and action, and with as much thriller as there's fighting. Great watch.
rated 4/5: fo shizzle
Michael Woods! Don't forget that name. He's the big black tough guy with the (considering his size) impressive three step kick that appeared as a bad guy in a few Donnie Yen movies in the eighties/nineties and then flat out disappeared.
This is the one with the gas fight and wall hook.
He's not the main character though. Nor is Donnie Yen. Maybe Jacky Cheung is, maybe Carol 'Do Do' Cheng and Irene Wan too. A lot of faces I recognize but don't know the names of. The police chief's a familiar one too.
It's a brutal, gritty mostly-night-scene movie starring a cop case gone wrong with heroin and corruption, and the name 'Tiger Cage' is a reference to some drug/crime/similar related thing I don't recall now and can't seem to find the meaning of again. Maybe it's explained within the movie.
Donnie doesn't have as big a role as you'd think here, but I'm really not disappointed. The stunts they pull off - with jumps and building climbs and what not, the walls they get thrown into, the barbwire bits and kicks off of a platform of cement funnels... it's impressive. Props Amy and the other girl too. They probably really all took a beating in the process of making this.
Maybe I'm hyping it up a bit more than I need to. There's a little much darkness sometimes. It gets hard to see the action, but the action is grimy, the stunts are solid, there's a little occasional comedy mixed in with the seriousness, and twists, and when it's all over I really did get what I bargained for.
HK action at its best and lowest budget right here. It's all about creative violence, stunts and a ferocious chemistry. They've got it all covered. Essentials of humanity in grimy great eighties B-movie action.
rated 4/5: fo shizzle