Angel (1987)

Posted in Reviews by - April 20, 2015
Angel (1987)

A fantastically fun and feral delight. If you need an example of how bat-shit crazy Hong Kong action films were in the 1980s – particularly in contrast to the sort of macho slug-fests being touted in the west by the likes of Stallone and Schwarzenegger – then this would be a great place to start. The film transformed the career of former child star and girl-next-door type Moon Lee – who seriously upped her fu credentials to lead this great film – and Yukari Oshima, who steals the show as the sadistic villain. The film also set the template for the ‘Girls with Guns’ sub-genre which championed strong, dominant female characters, and spawned a number of spin-offs and sequels, many continuing the ‘Angel’ theme.

In a riff on the Charlie’s Angels premise, Shaw Brothers veteran David Chiang plays the Charlie role at the head of the covert Angel Organisation. The team includes the inimitable Elaine (Elaine Lui), a knowingly ditzy lounge singer in pearl necklaces and big 80s hair who will leap off a building following a gun fight and then complain about the scratches on her legs. Then there’s Moon (Moon Lee), a docile secretary by profession who is also partial to machine-gunning a house full of bad guys. Saijo (Saijo Hideki) rounds off the team. He’s a dashing Japanese martial arts expert who sends romantically brooding looks in Moon’s direction and enters one action scene with a gun blazing in one hand as he grips onto a rope ladder suspended from a moving helicopter.

The team are called in to investigate a pan-Asian drug smuggling consortium who start popping off the Interpol agents responsible for aiding Thai police in destroying their heroin crop. They’re led by the fabulous screen figure of Madame Yeung (Yukari Oshima), a gloriously petulant, vicious and unhinged femme fatale who thinks nothing of chopping off some poor guy’s fingers during a business meeting, or laughing maniacally at a torture scene. She’s bad news – even a suited Hwang Jang-lee is scared of her – and her moods become apoplectic when the Angels start cracking into her safe deposit boxes, invading premises with their smart watches and generally breaking heads. The final showdown is an absolute riot with Elaine throwing exploding buttons and Moon unleashing all of hell’s fury on Yeung with her whiplash kung fu skills. It is impossible to overstate just how much fun it is watching this film.

AKA: AngelsFighting Madam; Iron Angels; Midnite Angels; Midnight Angels; Martial Angels.

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