Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Along Comes a Tiger

The Action Mutant…
washes his hands after every disemboweling.

Along Comes a Tiger

review by Joe Burrows

The Plot, as it was:
Don Wong Tao stars as "Miracle Man", a mute drifter that has gained quite the rep amongst the townspeople. He has set out to kill Black Dragon (Tommy Lee), the leader of the Black Dragon Society who hung his father from a tree in his youth. Along the journey, he fights through West's army of fan brandishing casino owners and bodyguards with a government aide (Stephen Tung Wai) & annoying kid (Gei Gwong-Lung) tailing his every move.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
Though no where near the operatic & grand scale of its inspiration (Tao, who also produced, made this as a homage to Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West), Along Came a Tiger is a cut above the usual norm of the genre. The winks to Leone's Western saga are sometimes obvious (the first scene, "Miracle" never saying a word, his "sacred weapon", etc.) but they only add to the film's flavor as the film is a unique work on its own. The characters propel the story as opposed to the action and that starts with Tao in the lead. Despite staying mute for the majority of the time, he conveys the right emotions and has an eclectic horde of enemies to play off of & get his kicks on. These baddies have quirks running from Madam South's (Doris Lung Chun-Erh) army armed with feathery fans (that conceal deadly, sharp surprises) to Master West (Philip Ko Fei) washing his hands after every kill. These aren't played for an "over the top" effect and add to the sometimes weird vibe, much like they would in a Leone piece. Tiger's costuming and set pieces are also a plus, as they are very elaborate for what could be a ho-hum Kung-Fu entry. Of course, people line up for the combat and ACaT shows up for it with a great deal fine choreography that's also above par. On the negative side, the stuff with the kid could have been excised greatly, as it really serves no purpose to the story. An aside scene of Miracle training the kid to fight is pointless as the kid never gets to use it and is easily captured to set up the final showdown (which really didn't need much setting up...I mean, Dragon killed his father...what else is needed? a dead friend? oh wait, they do THAT, too!). The ending is also a little murky for what should have been something straightforward. They seemed to be shooting for something poetic but it was lost somewhere in the final shots. Nevertheless, Along Comes a Tiger is a fun, well told ode to two genres that are more linked together than one may realize. Enjoy this little seen tale that approaches near classic status.

Body Count/Violence: 22. The deaths are actually among the least satisfying things here. Most are just beaten until they don't continue and someone has to come along and clue everyone in on whether they are dead or not (more than once, too!). There are nunchukau attacks, flying knives, sword slashes, stabbing and throat ripping for the more definitive sect.

Sexuality/Nudity: None.

Language/Dialogue: As drunken Alex Trebek would say, "Sonofabitch!"

How bad was it?:
The few reviews written for this hail it as something with superb fighting scenes and well formed characters. If theres anything negative, it seems to be minor qualms (the kid, supposed camp factor, etc.).

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Wang's Film Production & Distribution released Along Comes a Tiger in 1977. No money figures are known for it. You can watch it (along with many other flicks) at

Film: ***/*****
Entertainment value: ****/*****

Copyright 2012 The Action Mutant.

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