Angel III (1989)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2006-03-31

“Iron Angels 3” is a lot of fun with plenty of action, a decent story line, an insane villain and a couple of completely weird touches. Moon Lee is gorgeous, cute, smart as a whip and deadly as a cobra. She dispatches her first adversary, Yuki, by impaling her on the jagged glass of a broken train window and somehow manages to keep her from bleeding all over her clothes, since Moon appears in the next scene impersonating Yuki and wearing her blouse. To prove she is actually the feared Yuki, Moon has to fight a roomful of trained adversaries. When she kills on of them with a well placed kick she seems to earn the trust of the chief villain who is (I think) The Blonde played by Katy Hickman.

The Blonde is a Caucasian woman in charge of a large group of Asian male killers who are willing to do her bidding because she kills anyone who does otherwise. She has a fierce looking small lizard—looks like a miniature alligator—that she keeps on her arm while stroking and talking to the beast. It is fitting that the being that she is closest to is a cold-blooded carnivore. She takes her orders from the dictator of San Raphael, an African nation. The white ruler of San Raphael wants to undermine the economy of Thailand. He also enjoys humiliating, slapping around and occasionally shooting his black chiefs of staff.

In the first fight between Moon Lee and Yuki in the train compartment there is excellent use of cramped quarters, which adds immediacy and brutality to the proceedings. The combatants are always within reach of each other and use whatever is at hand as a weapon. For example Moon is battered by Yuki using a metal luggage rack ripped from the wall.

It reminds one of a few other fights in small spaces—“Bullets Over Summer”, between Francis Ng and Lo Meng in the warren-like hallways of a tiny apartment overflowing with junk during which they never lose physical contact with each other. A different but still effective way is in “Wing Chun” between Michelle Yeoh and Norman Chu when Chu, as the spear wielding Flying Chimpanzee, is lured into a small room where his spear is useless but Wing Chun’s short blows are deadly.

Having hired Moon Lee the producers got the most from their investment. Her fighting prowess was exhibited in the battle already described plus another in which she escapes from the lair of The Blonde with an important clue by fighting her way through a throng of enemies armed with swords. She has a lovely scene that has nothing to do with martial arts. Having fooled The Blonde’s female assistant into thinking that she is the now dead Yuki, Moon is driven into the country, put into a small thatched hut by the side of the road and told to strip. She does, looking quite fetching when she is down to her strapless (but very thickly padded) bra, and is told to put on a set of clothing already in the hut. It is a good change—she goes from a purple floral pattern top that looks like a Wal-Mart reject to a very sharp double breasted safari jacket—white and set off with a black belt.

The kickboxing scene is notable for the outstanding depiction of the semi-deranged frenzy of the crowd watching a blood sport. The extras are packed into to gym and the look appropriately demented as one of the fighters is beaten almost to death. The kickboxing sequence as a whole looks to be no more than a time filler, a way to get a couple more fights into the movie, but is extraneous to the plot. The only connection is when two very serious bad guys follow Alex and Kwai to offer them a huge amount of money for an unspecified job. They turn out to be agents of the San Raphael conspiracy which is unmistakable when one of them—the one who hasn’t been shot in the heart—bites down on his hollow gold tooth to activate a deadly poison. Most of the San Raphael spies are equipped with that lethal device and all of them are willing to use it to avoid capture and interrogation. Their pension costs must be very low.

The ultimate battle is between tough Thai Army rangers and the hard men in the service of San Raphael. While there are some unconventional maneuvers—motorcycles with machine guns jump a wall, an armored truck full of man crashes the gate—both sides advance and retreat in good order while under fire. It almost could have been drawn up by the school of small unit tactics at Fort Benning—that is until Alex Fong and Kwai pop over the horizon in jetpacks armed with zillion round machine guns.

Most of the attackers and all the ringleaders are finally killed by a combination of Thai bullets, well placed bombs and a splatter spectacular when The Blonde is shot in the head with a very large caliber handgun from a distance of about 18 inches. However if one pulls back a bit from the exemplary carnage it is clear that the evil plot hatched in San Raphael actually worked. The plan was to undermine the Thai government by killing several Commissioners who had been gathered to be given awards by the King. While they paid very dearly, the attackers succeeded in knocking off quite a few of them although it was impossible to tell one from the other since they were dressed variously in sharp civilian suits or military uniforms dripping with gold braid.

Recommended, even with all the geopolitical nonsense.
Reviewer Score: 7