1991 Written by Johnny Lee Gwing-Gaai
Directed by Hua Shan
Angel Force gives us what we want, tons and tons of action. Sure, there’s a plot in there, a half-baked rescue mission in the jungle that for some reason is done by cops, and some corrupt cops angle, but mostly it is just tons and tons of action. Shooting, kicking, knifing, punching, ridiculous stunts…Hong Kong action at its finest. These are the types of videos guys like me seeked out like crack at rental stores because nothing like this was coming out of US studios. Angel Force just brings back so many memories of renting anything I could from the woefully undersupplied Foreign section of the local video stores, at least until I got to a town with an awesome video store, and then the rise of cheap DVDs.
One thing about Angel Force is the film randomly leaves the Hong Kong cop setting for the middle of the film to do a jungle commando rescue mission, a la the beginning of Predator. This sets Angel Force enough different from the competition without it becoming one of several jungle commando pictures that were also out at the time. I do love all these girls with guns flicks, the danger is with most having similar plots and featuring the same core of actresses, without ridiculous stunts the films will begin to blur. So anything that helps a picture stand out is good in my book.
May (Moon Lee Choi-Fung) – Cop who is sent to the jungle to take down a terorist general and rescue hostages, because you want cops doing that, not the army. Even though she brings army guys. Moon Lee can also be seen in Angels, Fatal Termination, and Tomb Raiders/Avenging Quartet
Peter Lung and Helen Lung (Wilson Lam Jun-Yin and ???) – Peter is a hardworking cop who keeps getting called back to work and thus having no time for vacations, which upsets his wife Helen. Peter gets shot halfway through the movie and misses out on the jungle battle. Their son is Yaya, who gets giant ninja turtle toy and quizzes everyone on what “make love” is.
Benny (Hugo Ng Doi-Yung) – Crazy guy brought in on the commando team because he’s awesome at commando stuff. But he’s also a jerk and likes to rape women, so up yours, Benny!
Hong Kong does their take on Hakkenden, the tale that gave us Legend of Eight Samurai and Message From Space. Except it is a pure comedy and no one marries a dog. That’s good, as this film is about as related to the traditional Japanese story as Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter is to the Gospel of Luke. It does have some recognizable Hong Kong stars (even to Western audience members only slightly familiar with Hong Kong cinema) and some nice fantasy fights for a comedy, but isn’t afraid to dwell in the poop jokes or to murder children just so the audience can go “WTF?” So let’s all go “WTF?” together!
This version of the film comes from one of those double-VHS tapes, found in the double-size VHS boxes that old-school video stores had. The only video store I know by name that still carries those is Le Video in San Francisco, but some of the old-school Chinatown rental stores have this as well. The double-tape explains why there are numbers after the title, because there are two title screens, one for each tape. Old school is the best school, baby! There ain’t no forced commercials here like on DVD. Sure, the picture quality isn’t the best, but it’s not like this film is begging for a remastered DVD. It should be remastered.
Ben (Adam Cheng Siu-Chow) – Ben is a high-level fairy who misplaced six magic pearls that just happen to be the pearls Lucifer is going to use to try to destroy the world. Except there is also this prophecy that says six people will show up to help defeat Lucifer, so now Ben is looking for them. Adam Cheng was in a film entitled Sup Sap Bup Dup as well as playing the boss of the female tribe in Fantasy Mission Force, so that’s enough street cred for me to give him a thumbs up!
Buddy Wall (Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu) – One of Heavenly Goddess’s fairies who attempts to stop Satan. Not powerful enough to face him alone. Has a crush on Ben, and is part of a running gag where no one finds her attractive. Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu is a famous Hong Kong comedienne.
Lotus (Rosamund Kwan Chi-Lam) – Brutal proprietor of the Dragon Gate Inn, who beats those who complain about her service. The whole Inn is a scam to rob customers with a freezing mist, and she collaborates with Uncle Cheung in this scam. Rosamund Kwan is probably best known here for playing Aunt Yee in the Once Upon a Time in China series. Prophecy mark – Love for one’s elders.
Lousy Han (Ng Man-Tat) – Lousy Han is a loyal friend who lets his buddy Smart Hon walk all over him. He gets into trouble constantly, but always with a smile on his face. Ng Man-Tat is in a whole mess of Steve Chow films, as well as many other efforts. Prophecy mark – Loyalty.
Uncle Cheung (Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui) – The effeminate tour guide leader and fellow conspirator in Lotus’s robbery scam. Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui has made a career of playing stereotypical homosexual goofballs, from his own shows to films like this and The Storm Riders. Prophecy mark – Mercy.
Smart Hon (Deric Wan Siu-Lun) – Smart Hon is the brains behind the Hon/Han group, but he isn’t as smart as his name implies. His greatest ability is avoiding getting into trouble. Deric Wan Siu-Lun is probably most recognizable as Emperor Kang Xi in the two Royal Tramp films. Prophecy mark – Justice.
Sheriff Lee (Shing Fui-On) – Looking like a crazy wild-man, Sheriff Lee is desperate to solve a case before he’s demoted. He is willing to do anything. ANYTHING. Even his mother won’t stand in his way. Shing Fui-On has appeared in more films than I can count, probably most notably in God of Gamblers. Most of them were without the crazy makeup. Prophecy mark – Filial Piety.
Uncle Tsao (Peter Lai Bei-Dak) – Information collector and informant. Likes Lotus, but instead ends up with Uncle Cheung! Not a happy camper. Prophecy mark – Faith.
Lucifer (Lau Shun) – The devil is an evil mo-fo! Did you know that Lucifer has clawed hands, metal hair, a voice sounding like one of the Visitors from V, and spends all his free time terrorizing a random small village in China? Because he does. This movie proves it. And he enjoys tossing children off roofs.