Iron Angels 2 (1988)
Director: Raymond Leung and Teresa Woo
Writers: Teresa Woo and William Hsu
Starring: Moon Lee, Alex Fong, Elaine Lui, and Ting-Wai Chan

The Plot: Iron Angels 2 begins by showcasing this elite squad of covert agents, the same group from the original Iron Angels, going into battle yet again. This time, we watch as they deal with a hostage negotiation that goes terribly wrong. Soon after saving the day, yet again, the Angels go on a trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, so that they can enjoy some much-needed relaxation time. When they arrive, they quickly run into one of Fong’s (Alex Fong) former friends, a man named Peter (Nathan Chan Ting-wa). Peter is well-to-do and deeply respected in Kuala Lumpur. Fong is taken in by his former friend, and the friendship that he once had with Peter and another pal named Marco resurges. This trio make up a makeshift group called “the three musketeers,” and it seems as if nothing could draw them apart. Unfortunately, these three have spent a great amount of time apart, and Fong has some very dark elements hiding in his past. Now Elaine (Elaine Hui) and Moon (Moon Lee) must team with Fong and investigate his former friend. What they find could very well lead to a war on this island nation.

The Review
Iron Angels 2. While reading that title and perusing the Varied Celluloid vaults, readers might wonder why I would take to writing a review for a sequel in this series rather than covering the first movie. Well, shockingly enough, that first film HAS been covered on Varied Celluloid. However, when I wrote my original review, it was under the title Fighting Madam. Angel, Angels, Iron Angels, and Midnight Angels are all various titles for the same film, but Fighting Madam was the name that I discovered the original film under, and it stuck. It was only a little while later that I would discover that the Angel variation would be the preferred title by most fans. So, while covering the rest of the trilogy, I have decided to refer to these films under their better known alias. So, when you look at this trilogy on the whole, what is the glue that holds them together? Plainly speaking, action. The cast are all the same, sure, but it is the love affair for action cinema that keeps these movies flowing. This time out, the Angels series takes its audience into the realm of pure 1980s adrenaline soaked action. While the movie may not feature the most-brilliant script that action fans will have ever encountered, there’s no questioning the fun that is in store for anyone that gives Iron Angels 2 a spin.

It’s not that the original Iron Angels, or Fighting Madam, was a low-key production of any sort, but the height that Iron Angels 2 tries to reach is a pretty insane leap. In the first go around, our story focused primarily on the world of espionage and a large-scale battle against small units within a industrial drug cartel, but this sequel finds our angels essentially duking it out with an entire army that just so happens to be led by a sociopath. The movie does have a relatively slow escalation, but all audience members can see where this is inevitably heading. With the jungle setting being introduced late in the first half, it becomes a waiting game to see when the film inevitably turns into a Rambo: First Blood Part 2 clone. Believe me, the audience does not have to wait a terribly long time either. The second half of the film transforms into an explosion-fest as we watch the Angels run rampant on an entire army of revolutionaries. Living up to true action-film expectations, our heroes are able to kill a billion highly trained soldiers, while those same highly trained soldiers can never manage to land one shot. This is why we love these movies though, and if this section of the film could possibly reward the viewer any more than it already does, I’m not sure I can think of a way.

The action starts early and it remains utterly furious throughout the duration of the movie. The film opens with Moon Lee going undercover, where she attempts to rescue an important person during a hostage situation, and this introductory action sequence paves the way for much more to come. Within five minutes of the opening credits, we are watching Moon Lee sidekick random thugs down a massive staircase while the rest of the Angel squad pulls off some rather ridiculous stunts. With very little in the way of exposition, this action sequence comes at the audience with fangs baring. Amongst the awesome stunt work in this opening scene is a great bit where we see some “gun fu” performed by Alex Fong who swings from a rope as if he were Tarzan. The scene culminates in sprays of urine, blood, and some fun choreography involving a grenade that is tossed around like a hackey sack. The movie doesn’t stop there, it instead begins to continually escalate as it moves along. Moving at the speed of an Indonesian action-fest like The Stabilizer or Rambu, Iron Angels 2 gets more ridiculous the longer that it runs. From huge car chase sequences to bar fights that eventually involve transvestites, Iron Angels 2 is pretty unforgettable.

To continue harping on the action, audiences can obviously expect top-notch quality. Viewers of the first movie would expect nothing less. A lot of this is due to the performers who are put into these situations, and Moon Lee and Alex Fong are both exceptional in their roles here. Indeed, Fong stands out a great deal more than he did in the original film, and he shows a ton of charisma during this sequel. He is involved in a few hand-to-hand fight sequences early on in the film, and he always manages to acquit himself quite well. Moon Lee gets to be Moon Lee, and that means she is both cute but incredibly deadly. Towards the back end of the film she has one absolutely incredible fight sequence that should be mentioned. It is likely my favorite of the film, and in it we see Moon face off with a very tough military leader inside of a warehouse that is littered with barrels of flammable chemicals. The fight sequence is relatively lengthy and Moon gets to show off some very impressive moves. Although she is a bit slower here than I have seen her in the past, she makes up for it by the technicality of the moves she performs. In one combination she goes from a roundhouse kick to a sunset flip, then she jumps back to her feet so that she can throw a gravity defying jump kick. An impressive fight sequence indeed. If the film doesn’t pack the world’s most impressive plot, it more than makes up for it in terms of its action.

A big factor in Iron Angels 2 is the setting for the movie. The Angels are sent on a mission to Kuala Lumpur, and this is where the movie spends roughly 90% of its time. As a sidenote that I personally found entertaining, while traveling to Kuala Lumpur Moon Lee gets to crack one of my favorite jokes about the city: “do they have Koala bears there?” The setting for the film is certainly integral in defining this movie. This is somewhat expected, of course, as the girls-with-guns genre was known for taking detours into foreign lands. Essentially, there came a point in the eighties and early nineties where interest began to wane with the subject matter behind these films. Maybe it was over-saturation of the market, who can say, but inevitably the budgets began to shrink down for this genre. With these new limitations, filmmakers had to discover different ways to squeeze stunts that were “big” out of movies that really weren’t that large. Taking the films and setting them in nations with lower production costs would allow for bigger explosions, bigger stunts, and generally larger theatrics – all for less cash. This is certainly the case for Angels 2, and although the budgetary restraints are plainly visible, the movie makes up for it by crafting a rather explosive finale that is sure to rock the world of any Hong Kong action fan.

The Conclusion
Iron Angels 2 has its weaknesses. However, these weaknesses are very expected from the genre. With a little bit of foreknowledge, Iron Angels 2 is a highly entertaining piece of action cinema. I give the movie a four out of five, and I know that I will be watching it yet again sometime in the near future.