Angel on Fire (1995)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2007-01-17
“Angel on Fire” is a terrible movie—there are two reasons so watch it (thumb always poised over the fast forward button). I was aware of only one when I put the DVD into the tray. That was the presence of Cynthia Khan, an actress with whom I am becoming increasingly impressed. The second reason, having seen it, is Melanie Marquez, who has a very distinctive look and powerful screen presence.

So the slog through poorly written and badly directed dreck continues, moving toward the grail of having seen all of CK’s films. As both previous reviewers have mentioned, the editing was abysmal. It looked as if parts had been snipped and then lost—for example early on when Mimi, the supermodel with sticky fingers, is being pursued by two thugs. She escapes by jumping on the ferry just as it is pulling out, leaving the bad guys (actually one bad guy, one bad gal) fuming on the dock. The next shot—not the next scene, but the next shot—has her on a bus with the thugs right behind her.

Marquez and Khan are well matched foes—both are very fit and athletic, Cynthia is her usual extremely earnest, righteous and essentially humorless cop while Melanie is a demented, deranged lunatic who is also a master thief. The opening scenes of Mimi at the Shaolin Temple set the tone for the rest of this sorry spectacle. While the monks are in the courtyard practicing kung fu she is in the bell tower stealing a precious relic. The entire monastery is alerted to the theft but she manages to get away by outfighting, outrunning and outbiking all of her saffron clad foes. One unintentional subtext may be that Shaolin has fallen on very hard times if person can not only sneak into the temple and steal an object of great value from them but also get away with it. The correlation, of course, would be the sorry state of classic kung fu movies in 1995 and the hopeless anachronism of both the Temple and the genre of films.

Sharon Yeung is a Mainland cop dispatched to Hong Kong and then to the Philippines (along with the rest of the cast) in search of the relic and those who stole it. She has little to do, occasionally popping up accompanied by a Philippine police officer to shoot or beat up someone. Possibly the shortest person in the cast she does get the honor of beating up Black Leopard, played by the very large Winston G. Ellis.

Things are completely confused by the end of the movie. There are either two or three sets of bad guys, all armed with automatic weapons who show up in an industrial area for the handover of the sacred object to buyers with a briefcase full of money. There is a lot of gunfire, many explosions and a high butcher’s bill but who is shooting at who is never really made clear. Actually most of the combatants seem more interested in emptying as many clips of ammunition possible than in retrieving the stolen Shaolin trophy.

The good news is that Cynthia Khan looks great. Excellent make-up—she has a lot of close ups—and some very nice if badly out of date costumes. Especially in an outfit of very high waisted trousers with suspenders over a white blouse she looks sexy and feminine on one hand and ready to mete out quick justice on the other. For once in a modern police drama she wasn’t stuck with the boxy jackets and baggy pants that often pass for a wardrobe. Melanie Marquez, at over six feet tall and supple as a sword blade, would look good in anything including the long coats, form fitting slacks and always present opaque sunglasses.

That isn’t very much to pin one’s hopes on though. You should skip this one unless you have a specific reason to see it. Two points--1.5 for Cynthia Khan the other half point for Marquez who I encountered for the first time here.

Not recommended.
Reviewer Score: 2