Angel Fist

(Cirio H. Santiago, USA, 1993)


Angel Fist is, in quality, a notch or two below the best martial arts films of Kathleen Kinmont (C.I.A. II, 1994) and Cynthia Rothrock (Angel of Fury, 1992), but it still truly boggles the mind.

The star here is Cat Sassoon playing Kat, a cop who takes her murdered sister’s place in a women’s karate tournament in seedy Manila in order to investigate and avenge her death.

Kat’s rather ineffectual but entirely charming male sidekick in this mission is Alcatraz (Michael Shaner), and her ultimate ally is another muscular powerhouse, Lorna (Melissa Moore).

Philippine director Cirio H. Santiago, although prolific since the late ’50s, is not renowned for his filmic craft. This often amateurish action movie, produced by Roger Corman’s company of the period, has a weird, quasi-pornographic air to it.

Rigidly alternating between gruesome fight scenes and long, loving glimpses of tough women taking showers, Santiago pulls off one wonderfully economic transition when Cat – still wet and naked from yet another bout of washing – immediately engages in mortal combat with a band of violent intruders.

© Adrian Martin March 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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