Yuen Woo Ping was a director known for many classic kung fu movies such as Drunken Master and Magnificent Butcher but when it came to changing things to a modern setting, he made the transition smoothly and this was one of the first, Tiger Cage.
Something is not right in the anti-Drug Trafficking Unit of the HK Police, and only a few honest cops know that the corruption goes all the way to the top. However, after they are framed for murder and drug trafficking themselves, the race is on to clear their names, protect their loved ones, and bring their corrupt colleagues to justice.
Not the most original of plots, god cops, bad cops, but like most Hong Kong action films from this period it goes all out from the start with some brutal fight scenes and stunts. Jacky Cheung is the main lead with backup coming from Donnie Yen and Do Do Cheng. Simon Yam and many other familiar faces such as Leung Kar Yan are also featured and thankfully the comedy is kept to the minimum and the serious tone definitely benefits the movie.
If it’s the action you are after you will not be disappointed, gunfights, as well as empty hand combat, is sprinkled throughout the running time, some of it very violent and bloody, unlike the unrelated sequel which many probably have seen. It is a sombre and bleak film, the opening shootout is stunning as well as the fight between Donnie Yen and Michael Woods and the tense finale.
Many fans say that Tiger Cage 2 is the best of the trilogy and while it is a classic this first film in the series is definitely worth a watch, especially if you like your action films done in a serious way.
The Blu-ray released by 88 Films has a great transfer, a little noisy at the start but the image becomes crisp and clear soon after. You have a choice of Cantonese language with great subtitles as well as Mandarin with subs containing a different music score and an English dubbed option. Some great extras include 2 different violent shots from the Taiwanese release, an archive interview with Donnie Yen, Vincent Lyn sharing his behind-the-scenes footage, audio commentary from Frank Djeng and Vincent Lyn and trailers.
This film is part of a great new Blu-ray box set from 88 Films which includes parts 2 + 3.
A great 80’s Hong Kong action classic that definitely deserves more credit than it has been given.
FILM – 8 OUT OF 10