Iron Angels (1987)

ironangels

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Three secret agents meet their match in a notorious drug-running operative in this action film that would drive the “girls with guns” genre in full mode.

When a group of poppy fields in Thailand are destroyed by an international task force, this has angered the Dai Nippo organization, a company who uses a legitimate company as a cover for their drug running operation. Second-in-command Madam Yeung, the sister of the Big Boss, orders all the responsible parties dead. A Hong Kong police officer and a Japanese officer are both killed by Yeung’s subordinates. The Hong Kong police commissioner, worried that more bodies will turn up, call the Angel organization led by John Keung.

The Angel organization is a special unit of agents who are tasked to do the difficult missions that the regular police can’t handle. Keung enlists his top three agents, Japanese agent Saijo, young powerhouse Moon, and the very spoiled Elaine. Together with Commander Fong from the United States, the trio of agents break into the offices of Dai Nippo and gather enough evidence to stop Yeung. When they successfully stop a delivery from happening, Yeung kidnaps Fong, forcing the trio to go to action. They soon discover Yeung has an ulterior motive behind her actions.

One has to appreciate the “girls with guns” genre of Hong Kong action cinema. While the genre made stars out of Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock in Yes Madam and Cynthia Yang in the Line of Duty films, this Charlie’s Angels-inspired film would make instant stars out of Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima, two figures who would be synonymous with the genre of girls with guns.

While Lee and Oshima were the breakouts of this film, the top billing goes to Japanese singer/actor Hideki Saijo, who plays the male agent who joins forces of Lee and Elaine Lui, who acts somewhat obsessed with wanting to start something with Commander Fong, played by Alex Fong (who would return for the film’s two sequels while Lui would return for the second film). At a time where Japanese actors would make their appearances in Hong Kong films as either heroes or villains, Saijo really does it well as the heroic leader of the team even having a nice fight scene against Korean kicking god Hwang Jung-Lee, who plays a member of Dai Nippo who is not exactly supportive of Yeung’s methods.

Oshima is truly a devious villain in the film as she is even seen in one very disturbing scene laughing as she sees a lowly victim get tortured. However, when he lets her bootwork do the talking, she even gets an exchange with Hwang that is stopped by their boss. However, the highlight is the finale, in which we see Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima really go all out. Lee, a trained dancer, puts that background to good use and trained her tail off in martial arts. She has an awesome staff fight against many goons before her exhilarating confrontation with Oshima.

Iron Angels is truly a worthy 80’s Hong Kong action thriller thanks in part to Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima who go all out in a heck of a finale. However, Japanese singer Hideki Saijo proves himself a potential action star, especially going toe-to-toe with Hwang Jung-Lee even if it was a short fight.

WFG RATING: A-

A Molesworth Limited Production. Directors: Raymond Leung, Ivan Lai, and Tony Leung Siu-Hung. Producer: Teresa Woo. Writer: Teresa Woo. Cinematography: Sander Lee, Andrew Lau, and Lau Hung-Chuen. Editing: Norman Wong.

Cast: Hideki Saijo, Moon Lee, Elaine Lui, Yukari Oshima, Alex Fong, David Chiang, Hwang Jung-Lee, Peter Yang, Thomas Sin, Wang Hsieh.

 

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