Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Heroes Shed No Tears (1986)

Shot a couple of years earlier, but was shelfed and not released until John Woo became famous, Heroes Shed No Tears is a magnificent and trashy jungle-action movie with less depth and less artistic merits than most of his later movies, but still... this is John Woo, and John Woo doing action is always (expect Paycheck and most of Mission Impossible 2) a fantastic experience. 

Here we have the great and intensive Eddy Ko as Chan Chung, a mercenary hired by the Thai government to bring a powerful druglord home to justice. He and his crazy gang of ex-militaries and criminals manages to capture the druglord - but is forced to bring Chan's son with them after the druglord's men is trying to take him in exchange for their boss. Also after them is the Vietnamese military, lead by a sadistic officer (Ching-Ying Lam), these three gangs means a lot of shooting!

The story is simple, the characters isn't that well written, but you can so clearly see the talent of John Woo. The action is amazing, very gory and violent, tons of squibs, blood, a couple of mutilations and more explosions than a Bruno Mattei movie. I love those tracking shots during shoot-outs, which suddenly takes us in the action and almost gives a feeling of 3D. A trademark of Woo. We also have a lot of slow-mo in combination with people nearly getting shot, standing to close to explosions or just feeling like dying in some other way. This is awesome, and it's a pity this movie is in the shadow of his later masterpieces - because even if this don't offer any originality, it's still a helluva action-movie.

Not only the action has Woo's stamp all over it. In the relationships among the men and in the father-son scenes you see a lot of what was going to come later. He has that uncanny talent to hit the heart of the viewers when you least expected it, and really wants you to feel for the characters. Just look at the scene where the little boy is almost burned to death, he's running like a scared rabbit, the camera is following him on a distance, until he finds a way to protect himself. If it wasn't for the gory shoot-outs before and after it could have belonged in a more "serious" movie. 

But this is a movie made for action, and during it's 84 minutes it's almost action all the time. Shootings, explosions, some fights, chases and some amazing stuntwork by the Thai stuntmen. Eddy Ko more or less carries the movie on his shoulders and is the best actor of the bunch, even if no one is really bad - just overacting in the traditional Hong Kongnese way.

I'm happy I finally saw this pearl of a movie. This bring class and quality to the jungle-action-genre, and I don't think I've seen it better before or after. 


Phantom of Pulp said...

Agree with you, mate, that this is a very worthwhile Woo flick.

It's quite brutal, too.

The scene with the boy in the burning grass was clearly inspired by a similar scene from the 'Baby Cart' series.

lizzardking said...

Damn you Fred! First The Devils and now this one! You bet me to them all ;D