Written by Dave Younger
This is a prison drama, where the most feared criminal in Combs State Prison is born-to- be-bad Miles “Cain” Skinner (Ving Rhames). His nemesis Redfoot (Robert LaSardo) has just been caught doing his last drug deal and is transferred there. Which tough guy will prevail? Cain is so dangerous he’s in solitary confinement, so that makes it harder to take him out. But he is allowed out one hour a day. He’s handcuffed – sometimes – and security is increased, so it seems like Redfoot has an advantage. But those handcuffs could be nasty weapons…
Meanwhile, Cain’s only son, Ricky (Nipsey Hussle) is following the same torturous path. To complicate matters, Ricky has just been given a life sentence in the same penitentiary. They don’t get along either, and it’s heartbreaking to Cain to see his son going down the same road. It gives Cain even more motivation to survive his inevitable showdown with Redfoot. Only then can he remain a force of good in his son’s life. Not that Ricky sees it that way. To him, Cain is a constant reminder of the father he never had, which accounts for his affectionate use of the “N” word when referring to his dad.
The aspect ratio is 1.78:1. This is well-lit, colorful and bright. That’s for one hour a day, when they’re in the courtyard outside. Back inside, it’s considerably darker, but still, clear and well-defined video rules the day. There is nothing remarkable here.
There are two choices: Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0. An annoying hip-hop soundtrack, with booming subwoofer, is a detraction. Not much use of surrounds, which is as it should be in a confining space like prison.
None. Which doesn’t prevent the legal department from posting the following disclaimer: “The following special features are for entertainment purposes only. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual speakers, and do not represent the views and opinions of Phase 4 Films Inc., its parent, subsidiaries and affiliates.” Doesn’t that sound like there is a commentary track? Overseas, this film is known as The Wrath Of Cain. Maybe it has a commentary track.
Great action movies, like The Road Warrior or the Indiana Jones movies, take place outdoors, where exciting stuff can happen. Like a rocket launcher blowing up a fuel tanker on a highway. Caged Animal (rated R for violence, pervasive language and brief sexuality, 78 min.) takes place almost entirely indoors. This is very limiting, because they don’t call them motion pictures for nothing. At their heart, movies are about motion, forward movement, momentum, and unfolding spectacle. None of which happens here. Although it says action on the box, violence is closer to it. All the characters are thugs, the acting is poor, and it’s hard to care about them. The film is so short there is a dearth of ideas and motivations. Beware films that can’t even decide what the title should be.