Beware Tiger (1980)

bewaretiger

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This film about the spirit of karate and an attempt to break that spirit is shown in this Apartheid-era South African film that has been found and restored after disappearing for many years.

Dark is a young man who has long studied karate and has a major dream of continuing his studies in Japan. However, there poses one little problem. He can’t afford it. His sensei, John, offers to help him attempt to get a bank loan and Dark becomes very appreciative. When he sees a young robber snatch a lady’s purse, he chases the robber down and is able to stop him. This attracts the attention of a local hoodlum, Shortie.

Shortie works for local crime boss Tony Dlamini. Dlamini has his own little predicament. He has been targeted by a master assassin and karate expert known as Tiger. When Shortie tells Tony about Dark, Tony intends to hire Dark to challenge Tiger. However, Dark believes that martial arts are not for killing and thus refuses Tony’s offer. Despite Shortie’s attempt to change his mind, Dark still refuses so Tony decides to use Dark’s girlfriend Thandie as bait to trap him into the challenge.

This 68-minute film is one of many films that were made during the Apartheid-era of South Africa for local audiences and had long thought to have disappeared after the abolishment of Apartheid. However, this has been found and restored and while by today’s standards, it’s considered a “so bad it’s good” film, the film’s notoriety makes this one to watch thanks to its interesting story about a karate expert who finds himself conflicted with his dream and being forced to challenge another karate expert.

While Hector Methandie is given top billing of the film, he plays the character of bumbling goon Shortie. Instead, the real star of the film is Siswe Dlmaini as Dark, a young man who aspires to continue his journey to learn karate by training in Japan. Granted, his training scenes may be reminiscent of the more mainstream Kill or Be Killed and Kill and Kill Again, but the fights are pretty lackluster with the exception of one such fighter, Tiger, who is great in his fight scene.

John Madala plays the crime boss Tony Dlamini, who attempts to hire Dark to fight Tiger after Tiger confronts him in a scene that looks funny when you see Tiger’s point of view against Tony. Hector Methandie gives off some of the comic vibe he did in Rich Girl as Shortie, Tony’s right-hand man who notices Dark and brings up the idea in the first film. Emmanuel Shangase plays John, Dark’s mentor and “big brother” type who in a desperate time of need, helps our hero in the last ten minutes of the film at the right time.

Beware Tiger has a good story and makes good use of its 68-minute running time but could have done better in terms of its actual action. However, this is well worth watching only for its age and time period as it has been restored.

WFG RATING: C

Gravel Road Entertainment a Conlyn Films presentation. Director: Michelle Hartslief. Producer: Coenie Dippenaar. Writer: Lorraine Philbrick. Cinematography: Michelle Hartslief. Editing: Barbara Tayfield.

Cast: Siswe Dlamini, Figile Majosi, Hector Methandie, Emmanuel Shangase, Kenneth, Alfias, John Madala, Mandla Ngcoya.

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