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Angel
     

(left) Hideki Saijo and Moon Lee, and (right) Yukari Oshima and Moon Lee battle in Angel.
AKA: Iron Angels
Chinese: 天使行動  
Year: 1987
Director: Teresa Woo San
Writer: Teresa Woo San
Action: Raymond Leung Pun-Hei, Tony Leung Siu-Hung, Ivan Lai Kai-Ming
Cast: Moon Lee Choi-Fung, Hideki Saijo, Yukari Oshima, Elaine Lui Siu-Ling, Alex Fong Chung-Sun, David Chiang, Yeung Kwan, Hwang Jang-Lee, Wong Hap, Tai Chi-Wai, Sin Lai-Ying, Lam Sung-Ching, Lam Chung, Ngai Tim-Choi, Wong Ching-Wah, Chang Dik-Hak, Eddy Ko Hung, Lung Tin-Sang, Kong To, Stanley Tong Kwai-Lai
  The Skinny: Some brief, but effective action sequences make Angel a welcome eighties relic, though everything besides the action is a reminder of why some people think Hong Kong movies are crap. Not much of a film, but many action fans won't mind.
 
Review
by Kozo:

Hong Kong Cinema was once known for movies like Angel, i.e. over-the-top action vehicles with barely disguised B-grade movie plots. This late eighties actioner should be a welcome diversion for those bemoaning the current cinema's lack of robust action entries, as it possesses the violent excess that helped propel Hong Kong Cinema to midnight movie staple status. That, and it has pretty girls who fight.

Also called Iron Angels, Midnight Angel, and probably a trillion other B-movie names worldwide, the film tells the tale of a suave mercenary group called the Iron Angels. Presided over by a white-suited David Chiang, the group assembles when they're hired by Interpol to take down a violent drug cartel led by the haughty Yukari Oshima. She's assassinating Interpol agents responsible for burning down some of her gang's opium fields, and when some of her allies get nervous about her extreme actions, she offs them too. She's obviously in charge, and the regular authorities seem unable or maybe unwilling to do anything about her.

But the Iron Angels are willing to do something to stop her - as long as the monetary reward is sweet enough. Composed of Japanese popstar Hideki Saijo, popular female fighting star Moon Lee, and relatively unpopular female fighting star Elaine Lui, the trio is as tough and unprofessional as you can get, meaning they take breaks from their job for sassy pouting and minor romance, plus go about their business in distractingly inappropriate outfits. In one sequence, the trio stage a nighttime building break-in while wearing white track suits, off-the-shoulder sweaters, and large, dangly hoop earrings. The fashions presumably prevent them from getting hit by vehicles at night, but ninja-like stealth is probably not aided by this choice in attire.

Nevertheless, when it's time to kick ass, the trio does, with satisfying results. Angel isn't much of a movie, in that it possesses little in the way of acting, story, or direction. On the other hand, it's got excellent, if not too brief flashes of action, including many scenes of Yukari Oshima whacking people around with her powerful legs. In one scene she takes on both Elaine Lui and Alex Fong (as a smarmy young FBI agent), and is both pretty and powerful in her lithesome ass-kicking ability. There's also a nifty, if not distractingly edited raid on a bad guy hideout where the Iron Angels come calling with grenades and machine guns, leading to plenty of blood and broken glass. Hideki Saijo, whose Hong Kong Cinema output consists of this lone film, even gets a couple of entertaining mano a mano bouts with Korean fighter Hwang Jang-Lee.

The above is nothing, however, compared to the jaw-dropping knockaround between Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima, where the two attack each other with nails, two-by-fours, and whatever sharp or blunt objects happen to be within their reach. The fight is still over far too quickly, but the speed and impact with which it's portrayed are probably responsible for a good 70% of Angel's status as a certified Hong Kong Cinema classic. Truthfully, that label may be a bit overstated. Angel accomplishes much less than some of its contemporaries (Righting Wrongs and On the Run, to name two) as it delivers little emotion to go with its outstanding action. The absolute best Hong Kong films delivered more than just kinetic thrills; they were frequently cathartic too. But hey, Angel has girls who can do both attitude and action, and they do it very, very well. To some, that's what Hong Kong Cinema is about. That parade shall not be rained on. (Kozo 2007)

 
Notes: • Teresa Woo is credited as director of Angel, but supposedly did not really direct the film. According to Tony Leung Siu-Hung, Angel's action director, the film was actually directed by Ivan Lai Kai-Ming.
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

images courtesy of Mei Ah Entertainment

   
 
 
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