Don't mess with Tigershark.. he BITES!
"These coins and this finger are gonna cause an awful lot of trouble."
It wasn't my intention for this blog to be so utterly focussed on so many jungle action movies filmed in the Philippines. Truly, it wasn't. It's just played out that way! There were dozens upon dozens of the things made over there, where the jungle could pretend to be anything from Vietnam to Cambodia, and the local population willing to chump up as cannon fodder without hesitation. Here's another near-gem from the tail end of the decade, Tigershark.
It's your standard story here folks. Sensei Tava Parker (Mike Stone, Tojo Ken in American Ninja 2) is having a relaxing life teaching karate to kids in Hawaii dojo, since the Vietnam war ended. He has a bimbo model girlfriend, Karen (Pamela Bryant, Don't Answer the Phone) who refers to her boyfriend Tava as "Champ". She manages to get kidnapped along with her friendswhilst doing a photo shoot in the Sudan. Tava's old 'Nam pal Cowboy (John Quade) and his sidekick Tony (Roy Alvarez, McBain) see the kidnapping and call Tava. Tava flies over from Hawaii determined to rescue his girl and make the kidnappers pay. Tava is the kind of badass that can pin tossed coins to the wall with darts, so expect violent payback!
This is gloriously by the numbers and all the better for it. The action is a little light on for the first half hour but some of the lines delivered by Cowboy are so funny that you are distracted enough anyway. Plenty of the action cliches are here for your enjoyment. With the girls discovered to be being held in a communist camp, Tava, Tony and Cowboy go to their rescue. Although this is the Sudan and weapons wouldn't be hard to find, Tava went to the effort to arrive in the country "crippled" with crutches - that conceal a DIY machine gun!
"In 'Nam we called him Tigershark, because he stalked like a tiger and attacked like a shark."
Tava enters an illegal pit fight in order to rescue his girlfriend from the corrupt Colonel Barro. The fight itself is hilarious as the two combatants (the other being the Colonel's chief warrior, or something) are tied by their hands with a chain and wear boots with studded metal spikes on them! Mike Stone is pretty buff, actually, I'm surprised he didn't do more movies of this ilk; perhaps even a Tigershark 2. I loved the 'Nam flashback that Cowboy had - complete with Days of Our Lives style screen-wobble back-in-time effect - of Tava kicking VC arse. That had me laughing for a good solid two minutes.
Cowboy and Tony are amusing characters, the former running a bar and the latter running a taxi company. John Quade was a veteran actor by this point, having done countless TV movies and serials in the 70's like Bonzana, Gunsmoke and films like Papillion. In his warm weather clothing and with his bumbling antics, he reminded me of Mickey Rooney. Tony helpfully has a brother in the Civil Army that he calls upon in the third act to help fight the commies, so that's why he's in this picture.
"I'm a lover, not a fighter!"
The Colonel is the usual slimy official we are used to in this sort of movie, spouting out lines like "You Americans! You think the rest of the world will stand aside for you? No more!" while forcing American women into prostitution. There's a Russian 'comrade' called Vladamir (of course) with an over the top accent who wants to trade opium with the Colonel for money, and the aforementioned white women. Seriously these two characters were picked from the lowest branch on the tree of cliche, and I love it.
It would be naive of me to suggest you couldn't work out how this all ends, so I'll get to the point. It all culminates in an explosive action sequence involving Tava firing missiles from home made crossbows (that Tava fires by pulling the string back with his teeth) and a pistol in the other hand, and Tony and Cowboy providing backup, to rescue Karens friends still captured. Huts explode, the girls are saved and everyone returns to Hawaii to paddle on canoes into the sunset.
Definitely a solid piece of 80's Jungle action that is worth hunting down a used VHS for. Unbelievably, Tigershark currently sits at 1.6 out of 10 on IMDB - that's the kind of score that Ulli Lommel movies get, and is unfairly awarded. It's a movie called Tigershark, what were these people thinking? Look at the poster! This isn't going to be Citizen Kane folks! From the director (Emmet Alston) of other such 80's classics as Way of the Ninja, Nine Deaths of the Ninja (Shô Kosugi and Brent Huff!), New Years Evil and Demonwarp.
For a 22 year old VHS this sported a pretty decent picture without many dropouts and good sound. Pleasing colours overall. IMDB says this is meant to be framed at 1.85:1 but I didn't notice anything majorly cropped; perhaps this tape is open matte. Runtime 95 minutes.
The Australian Premiere VHS.
Unfortunately the only trailer I could find was in German but it gets the point across.