Tiger Cage 2 reunites director
Yuen Woo-Ping with star Donnie Yen, but unlike the first film, Yen
is the true star here. He also gets a supreme leading lady in Rosamund
Kwan, as well as a lighter film and more HK-style antics. This film
may not be as dark as the harrowing Tiger Cage, but in its
own way it's just as enjoyable.
Dragon Yau (Yen) is an ex-cop blamed
for a robbery that he didn't commit. He goes on the run with shrill
lawyer Mandy (Rosamund Kwan), as the two are handcuffed together
due to Hong Kong movie-like circumstances. The robbery in question
involved a bag of money meant to be laundered by businessman Philip
(Robin Shou of Mortal Kombat fame), but it got misplaced when a
masked gang of thugs attempted to steal it. One of the handlers,
David (David "WuMan" Wu), must find it, and suspects Yau
and Mandy. Of course, neither Yau or Mandy had nothing to do with
the robbery, and spend most of their time arguing in wacky Hong
Kong style over whose fault it is that the cops are after them.
For awhile, the two suspect David which means many misdirected suspicions
and humorous face-offs.
Eventually the three team up to clear their
names, as it's obvious that Philip is the real culprit. Aside from
acting smarmy and generally annoying, he hangs out with musclebound
bad guys Michael Woods and John Salvitti. Their presence heralds
a kung-fu fix for the fans, and Yuen Woo-Ping and Donnie Yen don't
disappoint. While the first three-quarters of the film is reserved
for fun chase sequences and some nifty Jackie Chan-style choreography,
the final quarter gets brutal kung-fu standoffs aplenty. In quick
succession, Donnie Yen must take on Salvitti (in a samurai sword
duel), followed by Woods and then Shou, who neglects to try any
of that Liu Kang stuff on him. David Wu does his share of faked
fighting too, but it's Yen who carries the day with his nifty martial
arts skills and above-average comic talents.
Those aforementioned comic talents
make some of the quieter moments of Tiger Cage 2 tolerable,
as they're generally run-of-the-mill Hong Kong comedy sequences
involving male-female bickering, a love triangle between the three
leads, and Donnie Yen acting drunk. Dragon Yau, Mandy and David
also bond during the course of their quest for the missing dough,
which is a plot development that's neither convincing or compelling.
Asking us to care for these characters is probably asking too much,
but most Hong Kong films (including the fine work of Jackie Chan
and Sammo Hung) are guilty of the same thing.
Tiger Cage 2 can never compare to Tiger Cage, because the sequel only beats up the actors.
The original Tiger Cage was a brutal, pessimistic crime thriller
than managed to bludgeon both actors AND the audience, which is
a rare feat for any film. While the silly wackiness of the original
provided a fine counterpoint to the ultimate death and dismemberment
of the majority of the cast, this sequel tries to make the wacky
silliness actually mean something. No surprise here; it doesn't
mean anything whatsoever, and the film's insipid love triangle comes
off as superflous filler. Then again, it's unlikely that those who
choose to seek out the film will give a damn who ends up with Rosamund
Kwan, anyway. All they'll care about is the action sequences, in
which case they'll go home happy. (Kozo 2002)