The Thai government hires a group of Chinese mercenaries to capture a powerful drug lord from the Golden Triangle. The mercenaries manage to capture the drug lord, but soon find themselves ...
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The Thai government hires a group of Chinese mercenaries to capture a powerful drug lord from the Golden Triangle. The mercenaries manage to capture the drug lord, but soon find themselves pursued by his forces, and the forces of a bitter Thai officer. The Chinese mercenaries are vastly outnumbered, and as their numbers begin to dwindle, their desperation pulls them into a corner as their enemies close in on them. Written by
Alexander Engel-Hodgkinson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Even though he disavowed it at first (mostly due to Golden Harvest's re-editing), John Woo calls this his first "real" film. He also enjoyed his first international shooting experience; Woo thought the Thai crew was very professional and willing to partake of dangerous stunts even the noted Hong Kong stuntmen would not tackle. See more »
Heroes Shed no Tears was filmed in 1984/1985 but was released only when the huge success of his next film, A Better Tomorrow, was born. Heroes Shed no Tears is not as philosophical and personal as Bullet in the Head (Woo's most personal film to date, set in Vietnam war), but it is no less fierce. A group of mercenaries is sent to get one drug smuggler, kidnap him and deliver to court. They kidnap him, but get an angry league of the drug boss' men after them in the jungle and so the savage chase and fight for life has begun.
The usual elements of Woo are not as primary as in his more recent films, like A Better Tomorrow 1-2, The Killer and Bullet in the Head, but there are similar scenes and segments in this early film, too. Men get killed "with honor" and there are couple of "heroic bloodshed" scenes, too, like the human bomb, for instance. One important element not found too often in Woo's films is that there are many female characters in this film and they are depicted very warmly and lovingly, so Woo definitely can direct females, too, if he wants. The brief love making scene between male and female at one point is very emotional and erotic as the female is so full of love and emotion, and that really tells something about Woo's ability to direct his characters and give them charisma.
This film is pretty close to Japanese Babycart samurai films Lone Wolf & Cub from the 1970's. The main character in Heroes Shed no Tears has a son and their relationship is very similar to Ogami Itto's and his son Daigoro's, in Lone Wolf & Cub. I don't think this is any rip off of these Japanese films, but it is obvious that Woo had seen these Japanese films and found inspiration from them. After all, Lone Wolf & Cub films are pretty close to Woo's films in their content and philosophy.
The adrenaline amount in Heroes Shed no Tears is incredible as it is hard to think a film more fierce and angry than this. The action scenes are totally unbelievable and Ultra violent, and I was totally stunned at the fight scene near the water/lake/river at the first part of the film. The mayhem is so over-the-top and something never found in Western film. Fast paced action never lets up during the 80 minutes running time of the film. The camera use in these action scenes and other scenes as well is very professional and it is easy to see what kind of talent was hiding in Woo. This is very violent film and definitely wouldn't get the R rating in US. There are hyper bloody gun battles, head shots, stabbings, impalings, choppings and other acts of violence that truly are savage, but still pretty stylish and symbolic, as always in Woo's films. It tells something about his films' characters' values and moral, even though violence this brutal is not without its consequences in his subsequent films. Woo depicts violence, but that doesn't mean he glorifies it. Violence is always bad in Woo's films and that is left for viewer to interpret and there are no easy solutions in his films. So this kind of cinema would never come from some big studio in Hollywood, I think. This kind of cinema is too challenging for mainstream audience. Still, as I mentioned earlier, this is not as symbolic, deep and polished as Woo's subsequent films and also violence is not as symbolic as in his other films, but this was only the beginning and the director was still inventing his cinematic philosophy.
Heroes Shed no Tears is very great piece of Hong Kong mayhem cinema, and early work of John Woo. I was very surprised when I watched this since I didn't have any expectations even though I of course knew this was Woo's film. The film is little stupid at times (there are some scenes of usual "humor" often found in Hong Kong films), so I give this 8/10 rating, which I feel is the right for this film, but this is definitely not for the casual and mainstream viewer due to its extreme imagery and attitudes! It would get more stars from me if the film had more content and something more to think about, but still I love this early effort of this great director.
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