Heroes Shed No Tears

                review by Bobby Blakey

There is no denying that director John Woo is a master of the action film. He has delivered so many great films in the genre including Hard Boiled, A Better Tomorrow, Face/Off, Mission Impossible 2 and so many more including one of my Van Damme favorites Hard Target. Back in 1986 before the release of A Better Tomorrow he took on his foray into gun action with Ying xiong wu lei aka Heroes Shed No Tears starring Eddy Ko. Now the film is getting its first US Blu-ray release from Film Movement.

Heroes Shed No Tears follows soldier-of-fortune Chan Chung, the leader of an elite Chinese commando force, enlisted by the Thai government to capture General Samton, a powerful drug lord from the Golden Triangle.  After a successful raid on the general's headquarters, the mercenaries cross into Vietnam and encounter a barbaric colonel (Lam Ching Ying), who is determined to stop them at any cost. Now pursued by both Samton's henchmen and the colonel's troops, the heroes flee for the border of Thailand, outmanned and outgunned by their enemies.

There were so many issues with this film behind the scenes regarding studio interference and editing that it is far from what Woo has stated was his vision of the film. That being said this is a pretty mixed bag in its final iteration, but one that still brings some of the classic Woo action in abundance. There is very little story here, with just enough to set something up to allow the rest of the film just be essentially one long action sequence. There is an attempt at trying to make an emotional side to it involving a father/son relationship, but it is constantly lost on the other randomness that felt out of place.

There isn’t a ton of dialogue which is fine as it might have just made it more disjointed, but the action is so violent and constant that it makes it work. You can see there are two films here with Woo’s signature style finding its voice as well as random moments that look like they were added later to bring some unnecessary elements to the story. This is a mess of a film in relation to the story and some editing, but at the same time is a thing of beauty in regards to the violence and bloodshed from beginning to end.

I love seeing movies like this that not only entertain on some level, but more so give you a peak into the emerging visions of a director that becomes such an icon like Woo. This is a must have film for any fan of Woo’s or just hardcore action so grab your copy when it hits Blu-ray and DVD on June 25th from Film Movement and sports a brilliant new 2K digital restoration for an optimal viewing experience. In addition to the film it also includes bonus content including a new interview with star Eddy Ko and an insert booklet with an awesome essay by author, film programmer, and Asian film expert, Grady Hendrix.

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