Saturday, March 14

Cage (1989)


Directed by Lang Elliott
101 Minutes / Sterling DVD / Unmatted Full Frame

Lou Ferrigno (Billy) saves the life of Reb Brown (Scott) in Vietnam while taking a bullet to the head. Scott stuck with his savior through the long rehabilitation and now assists the still mentally slow Billy through daily life. When two mafia businessmen (I guess?) witness the two friends opening the pain upon some thugs in a bar fight, they hatch a plan to lure the child-like yet mountainous Billy into a pitfight to save their asses from a large debt. Then we get some rather needless exposition about a female undercover reporter at the illegal events and the thugs burning the bar to the ground. Cutting to the chase, the businessmen eventually capture Billy and convince him to fight (or "wrestle") for the sake of rebuilding the bar. Scott goes on a small rampage trying to locate his missing friend and lands imprisoned by the fight's head of operations. Reluctantly, Billy battles his way through two vicious fights, but just when he thought it was over, he must now face his only true friend in the cage...

First off, the biggest problem is the padding. It's not exactly the laziest form of filler, as in painfully lingering shots of actors being nothing, but as noted above there are too many small threads that serve absolutely no purpose. That doesn't stop this from being intentionally hilarious. The opening credits montage is Billy's rehabilitation with Scott ever by his side; reading children's books, getting frustrated by baby shape toys, and trying to learn to walk again. I know this isn't supposed to be funny, but with Ferrigno and Brown? Hell yes, it's a riot. Not to mention the god awful female-sung, sappy ballad the sequence is married to.

Reb Brown is fantastic. Not even a minute into the feature his trademark scream sounds in the heat of battle. In his trail to find Billy's captors, he manages to almost instinctively scream "ASSHOLE!" repeatedly while shotgunning, light a dude on fire that screams for death, and punch a fat biker chick's block off. Ferrigno generally seems annoyed being saddled into playing a brute Simple Jack. The rest of the cast aren't of much note, but some instantly recognizable "that guy"s appear. Among them are Al Leong (token short Asian baddie with a fu manchu), Branscombe Richmond (Native American action film/TV vet who plays a Mexican here), James Shigeta (the unlucky Takagi from Die Hard), and Danny Trejo as a silent tough. Take it or leave it.

Film: 4.5/10
DVD Picture: 4/10
DVD Sound: 6/10

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