Written by / 6/01/2012 / No comments / , , , , ,

LOU FERRIGNO AND REB BROWN IN CAGE

year: 1989 rating: ****
What seems just another banal action film is a story of friendship has depth, feeling, and yes, it still kicks ass... The cage fights, occurring within an illegal underground club run by the Asian mafia known as Tongs, serves as a sporadic glimpse into what’s to come. While most of the film deals with two Vietnam Vets, Reb Brown as Scott and Lou Ferrigno as Billy, both shown in a Vietnam era prologue: Billy saves Scott’s life by grasping his hand in an ascending helicopter to keep him from falling – after being shot in the head. The loss of blood causes brain damage: Cut fifteen years later, after a corny opening credit montage guided by music a corny song too weak for the upcoming testosterone-driven action... The reality is, Scott owns a bar and takes care of Billy like a mildly retarded son.

Signed by Michael Dante
Although, the characters that really drive the film's plot are two shifty but likable Italian thugs played by Michael Dante and Mike Moroff who, cornered by an impending debt, stir up the pot in several ways, eventually tricking Ferrigo's gentle giant Billy to partake in cage fighting: both serving as not only plot catalysts but comic relief, going back and forth as if annoyed siblings. In today's star-driven climate, ambiguous side-characters would never hold so much importance and an equal amount of overall) having to fear Brown, The Tongs and mob boss Al Ruscio) screen-time.

Eventually, about an hour in, an enraged Scott seeks Billy, wielding a shotgun like only Reb Brown can, hunting down a gang the Italians used as a patsy. And Brown has never been better, showing intensity in place of his usual macho cool while Ferrigno nails the role as a friendly man-child who, when pushed too far, all but turns green in that cage: where only the winner survives. Meanwhile James Shigeta makes a terrific head villain, running the illegal bouts with an iron fist, shifting rules as they go as the always dependable character-actor Al Ruscio, as an Italian mobster, adds his own weight to elevate the already topnotch, underrated vehicle that is CAGE, starring two muscular studs held-up by the strength of top-notch surrounding performers.
"And then the big green superhero..."
Reb Brown consoles a recovering Lou Ferrigno in the credit sequence of CAGE
Scene-Stealers Mike Moroff and Michael Dante talk to Lou Ferrigo's Billy
Reb enters the back-alley gang chambers
And is ready to kick ass and take no prisoners
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