Raging Angels (1998)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2007-03-20
“Raging Angels” is a revenge tragedy and martial arts melodrama that has some extremely well drawn and credible characters, excellently played by a typical Hong Kong cast of the period. It loses focus a bit during scenes in a Filipino women’s prison but gets everything back in line for a thrilling, brutal and suspense filled set of fights at the end. Carrie Ng’s hair and makeup were always perfect, even when firing a submachine gun or throwing a grenade and Jade Leung was as captivatingly lovely as always. The bad guys are outrageously and irredeemably bad, some of the good guys are a bit shady and the only really innocent people are Chin, her mother and her husband. As usual innocence is not enough to keep one safe, particularly when true evil is around.

Roy Cheung Yiu-Yeung was Brother Tammy. He pushed Uncle Hwa’s (Eddie Ko Hung) company to the brink of bankruptcy with badly timed currency trades done with company funds taken from accounts controlled by Tao (Vincent Wan Yeung-Ming) and when found out killed them both. Brother Tammy and a hired thug attack Hwa and Tao in a very brutal fight. It is particularly vicious because Tammy enjoys hurting people while Hwa and Tao are only trying to defend themselves. It is clear almost from the beginning how this fight has to turn out—Tammy and the thug are both superior fighters, although the hired muscle who squares off with Tao is only marginally so. Tao could have won the battle between the two of them with a lucky blow or two but he was barely blocked each time. Hwa, on the other hand, while brave and resourceful, had little chance against the almost superhumanly vicious Tammy.

Chin (Jade Leung) and Sister Bin (Carrie Ng) are framed when drugs are discovered at by customs officers are the Manila airport. Drug trafficking (at least in this movie) carries the death penalty in the Republic of the Philippines and after conferring with their barrister they realize that one of them has to plead guilty while the other is freed and finds out how they got set up. Chin and Sister Bin have a few very touching scenes together which are very effective in establishing their characters and, most importantly, grabbing the sympathy of the audience.
While it was a bit difficult to accept Carrie Ng as a guardian angel, Jade Leung was excellent as confused, frightened but ultimately very tough woman. When pushed around by tough Filipina inmates she hits back—not the most convincing fight scene but a combination of undercranking, overcranking and good stunt artists made it work.

We know how this has to end. Sister Bin and Chin have dealt with murderous thugs, venal lawyers, thieving business partners and corrupt prison officials. Chin’s husband and mother have been murdered; the company that Sister Bin’s family built over decades has been stolen. They return to Hong Kong and are ready to deal with the villain who was the cause of all their trouble. He is ready for them, though, and sends his thugs to Chin’s mother’s home to wait for them. The ambush fails, although another innocent person is killed. Chin and Sister Bin grab the assassin’s car and head for their confrontation with Tammy—and since the assassins had come well prepared they have pistols, machine guns and hand grenades.

They take out one group of bad guys without too much trouble by shooting all of them then use the grenades against Praetorian Guard around Tammy. The last fight between Tammy and the two women is exemplary for its non-stop action, brutality and stoic athleticism by all three combatants. It was shot in a darkened--but not too dark—pier and there were plenty of boxes and barrels for them to throw at each other or throw each other against. It is a terrific action piece that stays suspenseful to the very end.

“Raging Angels” works because the audience identifies with Sister Bin and especially Chin. They are women in danger who have been betrayed by those closest to them and have to figure out their next move on the fly. Both actresses look terrific in their customary fashion. Jade Leung showed more acting range here than I was used to seeing, and not only in the big scenes. Any trained actress can look good in a moment when she is told that her husband of a few weeks has been killed but she also shines in smaller, less emotionally raw scenes. One is when the two of them have been told that one stays in prison while the other one gets released. The look she gave Sister Bin was eloquent and moving—there was trust, determination, a bit of apprehension and more than a bit of desperation in her eyes. Only the most cold hearted could fail to love her after that.

Carrie Ng had a different approach. She was the tough executive who could buy off a judge or face down a hostile boardroom but also is very gentle when comforting a despairing friend. It was impossible to forget who we were watching, though. As the double dealings, treachery and murder mounted up we kept thinking “this is Carrie Ng they are messing with”, knowing that when it came time for revenge bodies would be stacked high.

I got this disc because to the two lead actresses. In addition to their admirable performances there was a good story of revenge served hot—very hot—and some choice action scenes.

Reviewer Score: 6