By: John M Jerva During the late 80’s and 90’s I was practicing and teaching the martial arts in my hometown of Mentor, Ohio. During that time, I developed a […]
By: John M Jerva
During the late 80’s and 90’s I was practicing and teaching the martial arts in my hometown of Mentor, Ohio. During that time, I developed a long term love with the martial arts sub genre of the action world and pretty much saw everything that was released on home video at that time. One of my biggest favorites to come out of that era was Gary Daniels. The British ass kicker was a champion kickboxer who parlayed his talents to the silver screen and starred in a host of awesome films in which he demonstrated his physical prowess on many unfortunate bad guys. Daniels not only had the moves but he also had the charisma and acting chops to go along with it. To name your favorite Gary Daniels film is impossible if you are a true fan and I am here today to talk about one of my all time favorites...White Tiger! Not only does it boasts some pretty awesome action but it probably showcases one of the best VHS cover art for one of his films which you can see below!
Mike Ryan (Gary Daniels) is a tough DEA agent. Ryan and his partner, John Grogan (Matt Craven) are inseparable friends. Grogan is a family man with a beautiful wife and a precious eight year old son. Ryan has become part of the happy family, being more like a brother to Grogan than just a friend.
But the happy family crumbles when a drug raid goes horribly wrong. Grogan is ambushed and ruthlessly killed. Ryan tries to console Grogans wife and child, but they turn him away and he realizes that he will never be part of the family again.
Ryan must find Chow (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), a notorious crime lord from Hong Kong and take him in. Chow has developed a synthetic drug that will hit the streets in the U.S. in a week. Ryan finds himself embroiled in the Chinese underworld with no way out.
Ryan starts asking questions about Chow in a Chinatown bar where he meets Jade (Julie Nixon). His questioning, however, goes nowhere and he is ambushed by a gang in a dark alley. Ryan takes them on with his martial art skills. Ryan falls for Jade and she vows to help him find Chow.
Word spreads on the streets that one man beat the White Tiger Chow is hunting. The Crime lords in Hong Kong begin to have doubts about Chow and dispatch an assassin.
When Chow hears about this rogue cop’s vendetta against him, he sends out another hit squad to take Ryan out. Chow knows Jade and asks her to deliver Ryan to him.
Ryan continues to fight single-handedly against Chow’s men while figuring out who to trust. Jade is the assassin sent by the Honk Kong crime lords to kill Chow. She has set it up so Ryan will kill Chow for her. When Ryan reveals he has know Jade’s plan from the beginning. Jade is captured by Chow. The fight is on for Ryan to get his chance for revenge in a face to face confrontation with Chow.
White Tiger was one of the most polished films in Daniels’ arsenal and looked like it could have been a big screen picture with the high production values. Daniels was surrounded by a great cast which included Matt Craven, Julia Nickson (best known for Rambo: First Blood Part II), Ron Yuan, who starred in countless martial arts films and the great Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. Tagawa made a great living playing the heavy in many action films and here, he is at his best as the villainous Victor Chow.
The film had a pretty interesting production history as it was originally called Tiger Storm in Hong Kong. During filming, the makers ran out of money and production was halted on it. Keystone Entertainment stepped in and purchased the footage with the intention to complete but scrapped it all together and started from scratch. The only thing to survive the retooling was Gary Daniels himself who stayed on to star as the film’s hero. A wise choice I might add.
The film is loaded with great action sequences and the beginning of the film where Daniels’ character Mike Ryan leads a DEA assault on drug runners is an awesome way to start an action flick. The scene has a great shootout as well as a fantastic two on one fight scene between Daniels and two criminals. The action is virtually nonstop and Gary plows through a gauntlet of criminals to reap his vengeance for the killing of his partner. Daniels and Yuan throw down in the second half of the film in a brutal and satisfying display of fisticuffs that I think I have watched over a thousand times alone.
Like I said earlier, Tagawa is at his best as the film’s main villain Chow and you can just see that he is having a great time playing such a vile character. The climax is a spectacular way to finish a film as Ryan invades Chow’s boat and bulldozes through Chow’s man culminating in a great cat and mouse game where Ryan and Chow duke it out for action film supremacy.
I feel that Daniels paved the way for future action greats like Scott Adkins and will forever be in the Action-Flix Hall of Fame and White Tiger is another prime example of what a tremendous talent Daniels is even to this day. Daniels can flat out kick and punch with the best of them and smile at the same time. he’s that good and White Tiger is proof of that.
You can actually see the film on Amazon Video or buy it for 4.99 and that my friends, is a great find for a solid 90’s action pic that stars one of the best in the business!
Check out the original theatrical trailer as well as the Daniels/Yuan fight below! As an added bonus, I have added a special kill count video for the film by the great Satan Claus on YouTube which highlights all the damage inflicted by Daniels and Tagawa in the film. Enjoy Gary Daniels Fanatics!