Look at that amount of covers ^! I'm thinking maybe I'm not the only one who likes this movie, and it might be because...
Donnie Yen really is the main character this time around! Feels strange to see a 'sequel' like this where at least two prominent personas that were killed in the previous one make a fresh appearance. It's really not a sequel though, it's an entirely new story featuring new characters, even if some of them act a lot like the old ones. Have you ever thought about how plenty of the actors in these HK action movies just play themselves? They don't really delve into any specific roles, if they do they either delve into being good or being bad, IOW being gentle or being ruthless, their differences as people often don't stretch very far. Just something I thought of just now.
As for actors, both Cynthia Khan and Michael Woods make an appearance, along with John Salvitti (long time friend of Donnie Yen - fun fact) who looks a lot like Bruce Fontaine... and then some. Compared to the previous the cast is just full of martial artists.
Whereas the first Tiger Cage played on unforeseen circumstances, this one plays on misunderstanding. It starts off rather simple: three guys with a briefcase full of money get into an elevator. It goes down a floor... or more. The doors open, and there's a trio of shooters waiting outside to gun them down, things get into the way (more specifically a briefcase and a pocket flask) and the guys in the elevator fight back, one escapes with the briefcase, makes his way to the parking lot and gets into a car where a young lady is waiting for someone else, another gets out some other way. The shooters (robbers?) are right on the first guys tail, and behind them Donnie Yen, a retired cop at the wrong place at the right time... or maybe it's the wrong time, cause she believes him to be one of the robbers. The one who got into her car dies shortly after, and the briefcase full of money is missing.
The initial twist turns from comical to sinister when they both get to her apartment and find her good friend murdered, stabbed to death, at first for no apparent reason. There are two parties interested in the money apart from the main character couple and the cops, so it's yet another cat and mouse game about that money.
Despite the serious setting there is a lot of comedy; character. It's a fun watch even aside from the big fights (though the Michael Woods VS Donnie Yen fight in this is probably my favorite), and it's definitely my favorite of the Tiger Cage movies. I'm about to watch the third one after this for the first time (I've seen both the first and second a couple times at least), but I doubt it'll match up. Mostly because nor Donnie Yen nor Michael Woods is in it, but also because this is the most well-known of the trio... but we shall see, at least Michael Wong makes an appearance.
This whole series is classic; much worth watching.
rated 4/5: fo shizzle
They really amped up the fight scene budget with this one! With the sword one, and the chain one, with green glass, with fire and a well-lit warehouse scene to top things up...
The fights are great, but in a way the low-budget grittiness of the first came across truer, the stunts seemed way more dangerous, and the loose ends felt fewer too. Like what happened to the female cop here? Was she a cop? Why was Patty killed? How did they accept David as a friend so easily, and know of his relation to the uncle? And was that other friend really trying to get a 30% cut? How a lot of things. Though it's late night at the time I'm writing this and I might not be as clear-headed as I should be either.
It's a good movie though. For the relational comedy, and for the fights, and for Mandy, of course.
Glad Michael Woods got to showcase his skills for a few seconds too, with the initial chain drag and flying lariat and all. Super acrobatic. Feels like maybe the timing/reactions weren't always perfect after that, and they made up for it with up-close reactions, but those were definitely iconic in their own regard.
I love these Michael Woods fights. Wish he'd done hundreds.
Overall this all feels both better and worse than the first.
Better quality. Better budget. Good visuals. A bit more messy. Not as gripping. Weakness turned to strengths; strengths to weaknesses... it really is a little bit of everything. But it is a classic.
Wish they'd kept it up with a third.
rated 4/5: fo shizzle