review by Seraph
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Tiger in a cage!
Tiger Cage is a dark cop/drama movie from the classic era of Hong Kong cinema.
Excellent action by Yuen Wo Ping and decent performances by the four central
leads are enough to make this film a winner.
Internal corruption in a
police unit leads to betrayal and murder. Brutal fight
scenes and dark drama tinged police story unfold in Tiger Cage.
The movie centers around
five main characters. Jacky Cheung's Fang Shun-Yu, Do
Do Cheng's Shirley Ho Shih-Ling, Simon Yam's Michael Huang, Man Tat Ng's Feng
Chien-Te and last but not least Donnie Yen's Terry. All are police officers, but
do all operate on the right side of the law? It is this question that will keep
you gripped until the end.
Opening with an incredible
shoot-out in which our heroes(?) chase a gang of drug
dealers, you'd be forgiven for thinking this may be just another no brain 80's
action movie. Indeed that is what I believed was in store for me. I was 'so'
wrong. 20 minutes into this film the plot kicks in and I was just glued to the
screen. The movie is rife with betrayals, plot twists and shock deaths which
make it feel incredibly fresh and original. The tone may be slightly darker than
most would enjoy but Tiger Cage benefits from messing with it's audiences head.
Just when you think you have everyone worked out something will happen which
leaves everything you believe in doubt. This feeling of uncertainty, and that
anyone could die at any time helps raise Tiger Cage above many of it's piers.
Another big plus point is
the cast, all of which put in fine performances. Simon
Yam plays the inspector and leader of the group and brings his usual gravitas to
the screen. The guy knows characters, that's for sure and the fact he is equally
adept at playing good guys and bad is a great asset in a film of this type.
Jackie Cheung comes off just as well playing an average guy who is just trying
to do his job. He has an innocence to him even in the darkest of movies and this
helps us root for him all the more. Donnie Yen plays his best friend and comes
off slightly worse in the acting stakes. He's never been a 'great' actor but
let's face it, he's really only here to get into some one on one matches. He has
a great fight with Michael Woods who he also fought in 'In the line of duty 4'
and makes a welcome addition to the cast. The big surprise for me was Dodo
Cheng, who I had never heard of before this. She plays the female cop who has to
balance everything and is really the moral centre of the group. Wow, she did a
fantastic job. Never resorting to the screaming 'girl in distress' stereotype so
prevalent in movies of this kind, she also never goes too far the other way and
doesn't act so tough that she is an unbelievable character. I for one will be
checking out movies she did prior and previous to Tiger Cage. So yes, on a 1 to
10 scale the ensemble cast gets a straight 10 from me.
So what of the action? This
is, after all, a movie directed by Yuen Wo Ping who
is one of the greatest action directors, being responsible for such hits as Iron
Monkey, Drunken Master and more recently the Kill Bill and Matrix movies. Once
again, Tiger Cage does not come up short and opens and closes with some of the
most frantic, kinetic and bloody action and stunt scenes I can ever remember.
The part where Dodo Cheng is chased by a crazed woman in a car is fantastic as
she gets knocked off of fences, rooftops and all manor of objects before nearly
decapitating her pursuer with a length of barbed wire. Today's special effects
just can not recrate the adrenaline you feel watching these type of stunts and
action actually performed!
If you are after 'Classic'
HK cinema this really is a good place to start. Crazy
action, great acting and even an above average story which keeps you guessing
right up to the end. Tiger Cage is a winner and another example of why Hong Kong
cinema has a very special place both in my heart and in the world of movies. The
tone may be a little too dark for some and the death toll (especially for the
good guys) is undoubtedly high but if you can get past the violence and grit
there is a great story about Police officers and the pressure they often face
both on the streets and sometimes even from their own ranks.
I rate it 9/10
on this movie on HK Neo Reviews Forum
Hong Kong (1988)
Directed by: Yuen Wo Ping
Starring: Simon Yam, Jacky Cheung, Dodo Cheng, Donnie Yen, Ng Man Tat.
Reviewed by Seraph (Paul), February 2005