Tiger Cage is a 1988 action movie directed by Yuen Woo-Ping, starring Jacky Cheung, Donnie Yen and Simon Yam, and is one of Yuen's many collaborations with Donnie throughout his career, the two of them having worked together previously in Drunken Tai Chi, and will collaborate again in the sequel, and in Iron Monkey.
When a team of police officers consisting of Fan (Jacky), Terry (Donnie), Amy (Irene Wan), and their superiors Inspector Huang (Simon) and Uncle Tat (Richard Ng) busts a drug deal, but with the leading drug dealer escaping, they end up finding themselves being marked for death, not only by the dealers, but by an informant and mole in their ranks.
The movie is followed by a sequel two years later, Tiger Cage II, also starring Donnie Yen, but this time the movie follows an entirely new storyline with all-new characters, its cast including Cynthia Khan, Rosamund Kwan (from Once Upon a Time in China) and Robin Shou. The new plot involves Inspector Yau (Donnie), a police officer who ends up getting involved in Mandy (Rosamund), a lawyer, who's a witness in a crime.
Donnie Yen, Yuen Woo-ping and Cynthia Khan would collaborate once again later, in In the Line of Duty 4: Witness.
Tiger Cage provides the following tropes:
- Advertised Extra: Given how Donnie Yen is the most popular and successful actor among the movie's Ensemble Cast, DVD re-releases will often feature Donnie Yen's character, Terry, in its front and center. In the actual film, Terry only have one fight scene before getting shot dead, over an hour before the credits.
- The Atoner: Uncle Teh, when realizing his betrayal inadvertently lead to the death of his protege and godson, Terry.
- Bait-and-Switch: Happens during the police locker raid scene, when the Superintendant is ordering for every officer's lockers to be emptied to track down whom is the corrupt officer hiding drugs in the police precinte. Uncle Tat's locker is emptied, an investigative officer declared he found something... which turns out to be a porno mag.
- Break the Haughty: Wide-eyed, idealistic, dedicated police officer Fan ends up going through one hell of a Humiliation Conga after being framed for drug possession within the police precinct. Getting disowned by his colleagues, having his superiors assassinated, with killers coming after him, and realizing his close ally and mentor Inspector Huang is The Mole who's responsible for his frame-up in the first place.
- Broken Pedestal: Terry, in the scene where he discovers his superior and the man he trusted the most, Uncle Tat, turns out to be secretly working for the drug dealers. He only have two minutes to savour his shock before Inspector Huang reveals himself to be the traitor by shooting Terry in the head.
- Batter Up!: During the fight scene in Uncle Tat's house when Officer Fan is getting beaten up by the black thug, he conveniently finds an aluminum bat beside a shelf, just handy for him to grab and beat up his opponent and turning the battle around.
- Boom, Headshot!: Plenty; Swallow Hsiong the mob boss, the mobster who tries to use Amy as a hostage, Terry, Inspector Huang, and a few nameless mooks.
- Car Cushion: Inspector Shirley after being double-crossed and dropped off a balcony, falling for ten storeys before she lands on a parked vehicle.
- Desecrating the Dead: After Uncle Tat managed to kill the black thug by shoving his head into a spike, he then spends some time punching at the corpse in a rage. Justified, since he's still upset over Terry's death and the fact that Inspector Huang would betray him and send the black thug to kill him, if not for Officer Fan's rescue.
- Designated Girl Fight: Between Amy and Inspector Huang's henchwoman. Amy gets the snot beaten out of her and ends up getting thrown into a pile of barbed wire, but she turns the battle around by tricking the henchwoman to charge into the wire, where the latter then accidentally strangles herself.
- Evil vs. Evil: Drug dealers vs. Corrupt cops.
- Frame-Up: Officer Fan is framed for being an informant for the Hong Kong drug dealers, through the packs of drugs hidden in his locker... by Inspector Huang.
- Groin Attack:
- Terry briefly does this to the black thug during the fight scene at the docks.
- Amy briefly does this to Inspector Huang using her knee when he attempts to rape her after capturing her alive and revealing his true identity as an informant.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The black thug suffers this fate when Uncle Tat shoves him into a pointed hook, which stabs him through, temple first.
- Man Bites Man: Uncle Tat briefly bites Inspector Huang in the leg during the final fight in a desparate attempt to take him down.
- The Mole: Inspector Huang, the Hidden Villain and actual Big Bad.
- Scary Black Man: The muscular African-American drug dealer who is the lead bodyguard of the foreign drug syndicate that infiltrates Hong Kong. He's played by Donnie Yen's close friend Michael Woods, and this is their first (of at least 6) onscreen collaborations.
- Sinister Shades: Inspector Huang wears sunglasses in several of his scenes, even before the eventual reveal that he is The Mole.
- Shoot the Hostage Taker:
- It's even better when the hostage is the shooter. The mobster who grabbed a passing woman as a hostage attempts to use her as a shield, but unfortunately for him, that hostage is Inspector Amy going undercover, where she then whips out a concealed weapon, overpowers her captor, and shoots him in the head.
- In the ending, Officer Fan shoots Inspector Huang in the head while Huang is using Amy as a hostage.
Tiger Cage II provides the following tropes:
- Briefcase Full of Money: The movie literally starts with an opened briefcase full of cash being closed over the titles. The briefcase becomes the MacGuffin Full of Money that lands into Inspector Yau's possession.
- Butt-Monkey: Inspector Yau is probably the most accident-prone character Donnie Yen has portrayed, from getting tangled with the obnoxious lawyer Mandy, getting unintentionally handcuffed to her which results in him nearly getting run over by a truck, getting filthy water dumped on his head during a stake-out, forced to hide in a water tank full of kitchen waste, nearly getting arrested by the police after losing his badge, and getting put through torture.
- The Cameo: Lo Lieh as a small-time mob boss.
- Chained Heat: Inspector Yau ends up getting unintentionally handcuffed to Mandy after a botched arrest scene. And what's even worse, his right hand is cuffed to her right hand, meaning there's absolutely zero room of maneuverability, and all this happens in the middle of a fight scene, where Yau attempts to perform a flying kick on his opponent... only to have the cuffs snag him down and making him trip mid-jump.
- Chain Pain: In the final battle, the Scary Black Man thug uses a chain to attack Inspector Yau. He momentarily gets the drop on Yau by restraining his wrists with the chain, but Yau got back up as quickly as he's down.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Inspector Yau is subjected to torture by having his chest pressed against the front wheel of an exercise cycle while his hands are cuffed to the handlebars, while a thug repeatedly pedals the cycle to rough him up. Yau, being Donnie Yen and Made of Iron, only exclaims "The massage feels so good!"
- Expy: Cynthia Khan's character, Inspector Yeung, is pretty much Rachel Yeung all over again, although she's never identified by her full name.
- Guns Akimbo: Inspector Yau in the final shootout against triads.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The black thug dies in this way after Yau kicks him into a long, bent metal spike.
- Karaoke Bonding Scene: Between Mandy, Yau and David after they get the briefcase full of money.
- The Load: Mandy Chang's contribution to the film is to scream through most of her lines, whine at Yau for being too rough with her, nag him through most of her screentime, nearly get Yau arrested by the police, made him trip during his fight scenes, cause him to get kidnapped together with her, and being just plain unhelpful in general. She actually makes Willie Scott appear tolerable in comparison!
- Subverted that she managed to bash Waise, the Big Bad, though the skull by the end of the film. But at that point she's practically stealing a potential moment of awesome from Yau, much to the chagrin of Donnie Yen's fans.
- Man Bites Man: A Call-Back to the previous movie, at the ending battle David briefly managed to distract Waise by biting his heel.
- Money to Burn: After Mandy, Yau and David get their hands on the briefcase full of money, Yau takes out a note and sets it on fire, using it to light a cigarette, in a Shout-Out to A Better Tomorrow.
- Over-the-Shoulder Carry: After Mandy refused to cooperate with Inspector Yau after they got handcuffed together, Yau had to resort to carrying her over his back while making a run for it. With her slapping him and demanding to be let down all the way. To the point of nearly causing him to get run over by a truck...
- Scary Black Man: Once again, Michael Woods plays a muscular black henchman Donnie had to fight, and this time their battle is uninterrupted all the way to the death.
- Screaming Woman: Mandy Chang, who screams her way through 70% of her dialogue.
- Sword Fight: Between Inspector Yau and the American mafia leader played by John Salvatti during the climatic fight scene in a power generator room. Yau wins by way of inflicting a Slashed Throat after a lengthy fight scene on his opponent.
- Wake Up Fighting: Mandy, after regaining consciousness and finding Inspector Yau in front of her, instantly lashes out at him repeatedly trying to kick him.
- We Have Ways of Making You Talk: The mobsters who interrogates Yau for the briefcase of money gets really creative in their interrogation technique, such as having him strapped to the front of an exercise cycle and pedaling the machine at full speed.
- With My Hands Tied: Inspector Yau, despite getting both his hands tangled in chains, managed to retaliate and beat down the burly black thug who's beating him up in the final battle, and even win with his hands still chained together!