MIKE STONE is –
This movie is bad. Tigershark is the girl you went out with because she seemed like a total slut. You expected some quick, cheap, purely viscerally satisfying action. Then nothing happened. She wouldn’t even sit close to you when you went out for dinner. As the evening drew on, it was clear that she was was a total tease, just using you for a free meal, a free movie, and a night out. She didn't intend to satisfy you in any way. How could you have ever thought she would be a fun time? By the time you dropped her off at her doorstep, you were glad to be rid of her. That’s Tigershark.
Tigershark caught my eye because of its cover art. It depicted a muscular man in “Rambo” garb crossing a rope bridge over a deep ravine, while holding a woman in one arm and a machine gun in the other. This machine gun was kind of pointed toward some soldiers who were rushing at them. Some of the soldiers in front were falling off the bridge, perhaps because the muscular man had shot them with the gun that was vaguely pointed in their general direction. In the background, four or perhaps five helicopter gunships approached.
Now, I knew it was unlikely any such scene would occur in the movie. Cheap action movies are just about my favorite type of movie, however, right behind cheap monster movies. Some of them have surprised the heck out of me in the past and have actually contained scenes just like their cover art. So I bought Tigershark and proceeded to not watch it for several months. Finally, I worked my way to it.
. . .
(I watched this movie two or three days ago, and it wasn’t the most memorable movie ever, so my recap here is probably going to be missing some sections of the movie I’ve forgotten.)
Tigershark starts off in beautiful Hawaii where MIKE STONE is doing manly stuff like rowing a boat and jogging. MIKE STONE exchanges some uncomfortable, boyfriend/girlfriend-like banter with a clearly underage girl before taking a phone call from a really bad actress. Oh, excuse me, I guess she’s supposed to be MIKE STONE’s not-underage girlfriend, or possibly his wife. Bad Actress is calling MIKE STONE to let him know she’s arrived in Thailand and is absolutely in no danger of being kidnapped and sold into sex-slavery by a corrupt airport security chief who is also the general of a rebel army and a Communist collaborator.
MIKE STONE, secure that Bad Actress will not find herself in some dangerous situation that requires him to call upon his martial arts training and military experience to rescue her, kicks some coconuts in half. Why? To prepare for the big, nightly luau he operates, of course! Can’t have a fake luau without coconuts that were kicked in half! Minutes are wasted at the luau watching an overweight guy in his 50s dance with the hula girls, in a bit that simply screams “INVESTOR CAMEO”.
Meanwhile, back in Thailand, a hotel steward delivers some flowers to Bad Actress. She reacts to this with sheer horror. I mean – flowers! *gasp* Who wouldn’t be terrified? Some generic, suspiciously Mexican-looking thugs rush in behind the steward and grab Bad Actress. Uh-oh, it looks like she’s been kidnapped by a corrupt airport security chief who is also the general of a rebel army and a Communist collaborator, a dangerous situation that will require MIKE STONE to call upon his martial arts training and military experience to rescue her.
But, well, MIKE STONE is awfully busy at that moment, so he calls up an old buddy in Thailand, Cowboy, and asks him to look for Bad Actress. Cowboy is probably pushing sixty, is morbidly obese, and is also not the most attractive person to look at. But, by damn, he’s also the one person in the movie capable of giving an actual performance. Cowboy has a friend named ... named ... uh ... Tony? Yeah, sure, Tony. His name’s Tony. I’m sure of it. Really. Tony is a pretty good actor, too. He’s at least relaxed and comfortable on camera and seems to be enjoying himself.
Most of the rest of the movie is spent with Cowboy and Tony, possibly because the producers realized that MIKE STONE has all the personality and screen presence of, well, a stone. It makes MIKE STONE seem pretty useless since he never does anything but it’s better than having to watch him on-screen for the remaining seventy-odd minutes.
Cowboy and Tony think Bad Actress was probably kidnapped into sex slavery, so they go to the solitary brothel that operates in Thailand (snicker) to look for her. Man alive, they really get their money’s worth out of the exterior shots of the brothel. The image of it is burned into my retinas. Anyway, the duo locates the room where Bad Actress is being kept but they are foiled when it proves to be locked. Damn! Didn’t expect that. They try to climb in a window from outside but are spotted by a security guard.
Cowboy crushes his ribcage with one blow!
I’m utterly serious. Cowboy elbows him in the ribcage, there’s a loud CRUNCH, and the guy dies. Who the hell needs MIKE STONE? Cowboy could have just torn the door off its hinges and rescued Bad Actress, then sundered the bodies of anyone who tried to stop their escape.
Sadly, Cowboy and Tony decide that only MIKE STONE has a chance of rescuing Bad Actress. He arrives in Thailand, but, um, it is now identified as “Mulovodia” or something. What? He has yet another blonde floozy with him in the hopes that she’ll be kidnapped, too, and he can follow her to where Bad Actress is being held. Mind you that he brought this woman here without telling her that. For all she knows, this is just a vacation. Great guy, this MIKE STONE, huh?
Sure enough, the corrupt airport security chief, Burro, has the woman kidnapped at the terminal the second she sets foot off the airplane. Surely, no one will ever discover his well-hidden scheme. MIKE STONE whacks a few people in the nuts with the crutches he’s pretending to use, so Burro decides to let Blonde Floozy go. MIKE STONE thanks her for unwillingly taking part in his harebrained plan and they go their separate ways. (!) Hey, great, Mike, ya jerk! I’m sure she’ll be perfectly safe and the bad guys absolutely will not try to capture her again.
MIKE STONE meets up with Tony and Cowboy and they waste minutes of the movie and our lives going over their time in Vietnam together. There’s a flashback I’m not going to bother talking about and a scene involving impossible angles, coins, and arrows fired from a crutch.
Let me step off a minute here. There has been no swearing in the movie. None. There has been no bloody violence. Sure, Cowboy crushed the guard’s ribs but that wasn’t explicit. MIKE STONE’s favorite method of dispatching bad guys has been the nutshot. Now he’s forgoing icky guns and using arrows.* Do you see what I’m getting at? Tigershark cannot be a theatrical or made-for-video movie. Either one of those would at least have swearing, if not bloody violence. It just has to be a failed TV pilot.
*(This is the kind of thinking that drives me nuts. Mike’s obviously using arrows because somebody thought they were less violent than bullets, so as to make this feature more suitable for TV. Give me a break! Arrows would make ghastly, bleeding puncture wounds. They would leave whomever got shot with them rolling on the ground, screaming in agony ... much like bullets. I’m sure at some point Mike will comically shoot someone in the leg or the ass with an arrow and they’ll hop away going “ouch” or something. No, sorry. That person would need emergency medical care, have a big damn scar, and probably be left with a permanent limp. Arrows and bullets are both projectiles meant to kill. In movie terms, I’d say bullets can actually be made to seem less violent. With bullets you could forgo a squib and just have your stuntman go “Arrrrrgh!” and fall. With an arrow, you at least have to show the arrow shaft sticking out of his body.)
Anyway, the rest of the movie has grown hazy in my memory. (To go back to my analogy from the beginning, this is the point where I realized my “hot date” was just a tease and I was impatient to get it over with.) I think Mike and Cowboy go back to the brothel to look for Bad Actress. (Why?) Burro also turns out to be a Communist Collaborator who’s selling some guy with a Soviet flag pin on his lapel sex slaves in return for arms. Why does Burro need arms? Because he’s not only a corrupt airport security chief who sells women into sex slavery, he’s also the general of a rebel army trying to overthrow Malavodia, or Thailand, or wherever the hell they are. (At this point, I was calling it Mex-Asia, since it seemed to feature a mix of Mexican and Asian actors. More on this later.)
The next thing I remember is MIKE STONE, Cowboy, and Tony going to an underground arena where people kick each other in the head with stupid metal canisters strapped to their feet. Burro is there with Bad Actress and Blonde Floozy. He tells MIKE STONE that he must fight a really big Mex-Asian guy – who makes the wackiest facial expressions, by the way – for their freedom. MIKE STONE totally gets his ass kicked and only wins by kicking before the blind, deaf, mute man who rings the bell can signal the start of the next round. What a cheater.
This segment of the movie is just about the only bit that presents anything that couldn’t be shown on network TV during the 80s. Halfway through the fight, the stupid metal cans strapped to the combatants’ feet are unscrewed to reveal blades. MIKE STONE’s victorious kick sinks his blade about two or three inches into his opponent’s temple. There’s even some blood! I’m still sticking to my theory of this being a failed TV pilot. The (somewhat) explicit violence in these scenes would be easy to edit out and might have been filmed much later, or was filmed just in case it wasn’t picked up for TV and they had to go straight to video.
Anyway, Burro doesn’t stick to his word and only lets Blonde Floozy go. She tells MIKE STONE and the gang that the others are being held deep within Mex-Asia’s jungle. They set out.
Hmm, now I’m thinking this was actually a two-part TV movie, or maybe even a miniseries, edited down into our 80+ minute feature. It’s certainly disjointed and brings up and immediately drops many plot threads, just as a much longer work stripped to its barest underpinnings would.
There’s really not much worth mentioning about their trek through the jungle, except that, at one point, they commandeer a canoe and Cowboy stands up in it. Yes, all 300+ pounds of Cowboy, standing up in a teeny-tiny canoe without tipping it over. While firing a machine gun, no less!
During all that crap, some scenes establish just how evil Burro really is. He flies into his rebel camp in full General regalia and asks how things have been in his absence. A soldier brings forth a starving man and says he’s been trying to steal rice from the camp. Burro is sooooooo evil he – orders his men to feed the starving prisoner a bowl of rice and not let him stop until he eats it all! Has there ever before been such a cruel villain in all of history?
No. No. Just, no. I refuse to believe any movie, anyone working on any movie, is stupid enough to present someone feeding a starving man as an illustration of how evil that person is supposed to be. Surely, that bowl of rice was supposed to be maggots, or at least rotten rice. But, but, Burro says “rice” and it’s obviously a bowl of fresh rice. Gah!
Anyway, MIKE STONE finally shows up with an army led by Tony’s brother (where the hell did that come from?) to rescue Bad Actress. The only thing worth mentioning about this is a very obviously post-production insert shot of some blood spurting from a knife wound inflicted by MIKE STONE. The knife isn’t even the same and the thatching Mike’s stabbing through is woven differently. Sheesh, they weren’t even trying.
While everyone else is doing the hard work, MIKE STONE crawls underneath the hut where Bad Actress is being held and has himself a listen. Burro is in there preparing to rape Bad Actress, who is badly acting her little heart out. There are a couple of shots of Burro saying “b***h” that were obviously post-production inserts. His uniform is slightly different in those shots. MIKE STONE, in yet another post-production insert (his shirt is different in these shots, too) dispatches Burro by stabbing him in the ass! I think. Here’s what happens: MIKE STONE plunges his knife up through the floor of the hut. Burro’s eyes bug out and he collapses on the floor. MIKE STONE lashes out with his knife again. Burro convulses. That’s it for Burro.* Then Mike, uh, crawls into the hut through the same hole he made when he stabbed Burro in the ass. I sure as hell wouldn’t be crawling through that.
*(From the way Burro dies, I’m assuming that in the original cut he was not killed that way. In the shots of Mike under the hut that were actually filmed for the movie, the ones where he’s wearing the correct shirt, he cuts a hole in the floor and cautiously looks into the hut. He sees Burro trying to molest Bad Actress. I’m guessing here he threw his knife into Burro’s back, or possibly shot him with a poison arrow, which Burro’s convulsing and eye-bugging would suggest. Whoever made the movie probably decided that wasn’t good enough for video distribution, so they went back and filmed the shots of Mike jamming his knife through the floor to suggest he stabbed Burro in the ass. [!] )
MIKE STONE rescues Bad Actress and two other equally bad actresses. Unfortunately, one of them gets killed. “She’s dead, let’s go,” Mike says with all the passion of a man announcing that he’s going to check the mailbox. Mike, the bad actresses, and Tony all make it to a waiting chopper (huh?) but Cowboy gets shot. There’s a hilarious bit where MIKE STONE tries to lift Cowboy into the chopper by himself. Then they take off with Cowboy’s feet jutting out the door. (!)
In case you were feeling bad about the one girl who got shot, don’t worry. We end the movie at another one of MIKE STONE’S fake luaus and she’s there, fit as a fiddle. Really. Man, who did continuity here?
After it was all over, I checked the IMDB and discovered the movie was filmed in the Philippines. I should have realized from the all the “Mex-Asia” stuff. I used to know a guy from the Philippines, and he described it as “The U.S., Mexico, and Asia all in one!”
Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention why the movie is called Tigershark. MIKE STONE wears a necklace with a tiger shark’s tooth on it. Except I don’t think it was really a tiger shark’s tooth. And MIKE STONE is actually the name of the “actor”. The character was named Tava, or something. MIKE STONE’s IMDB listing shows mostly stunt work, with a few acting parts.
Cowboy was played by John Quade, a character actor with a long string of credits in movies and TV. Tony was played by Roy Alvarez, who seems to have had a decent film career in the Philippines. Burro was played by Vic Silayan, who appeared in many Filipino exploitation films from the 1970s until his untimely death shortly after appearing in this movie. Bad Actress was Pamela Jean Bryant, who was a Playboy Playmate of the Month in 1978. She had a surprisingly long career in T&A movies and TV shows well into the 90s.