Heroes Shed No Tears

The government of Thailand hires a squad of immigrant Chinese mercenaries to infiltrate the notorious golden triangle and capture a drug baron. If they can achieve this mission the squad will receive a nice fat pay check and green cards to emigrate to the US. How ever the Drug lord in question General Samton has a tight grip on the area and a large force of armed troops to back him up. Can a five man team really get in, capture the general and make it back alive to claim the reward?

After trying his hand at several genres’ including comedy, drama and classic Martial arts director John Woo hit open the sub-genre that would make him famous in 1986. The year would see the release of Heroes Shed no tears (maybe a reissue from '83 I'm not sure) and A better tomorrow. It was these two films that would set John Woo on a path that would make him a legend in his own lifetime and bring a new term to the lips of western film fans. In 1986 Woo put Heroic bloodshed on the map and his influence reverberated through the world of action cinema and is still being felt today in films like DVD hits A bittersweet life and S.P.L. For many the eighties where the heyday for action cinema. Rambo, Red Scorpion, Scarface, Die Hard, Platoon, RoboCop, Commando and maybe the most macho movie of them all Predator where born in the eighties. And in that climate on the other side of the world John Woo unleashed his own action classic Heroes Shed No Tears. The film is pitched somewhere between a Vietnam War movie and a one man army movie like Commando. Tough desperate men with shady backgrounds, Special Forces training taking down a drug lord, you might have heard the plot before but you won't have seen it done by Woo (Unless you have seen this film already).

What ever happened to the subgenre of desperate men on one last deadly mission movies? If you miss it, then this new release of Heroes shed no tears lets you travel back in cinematic history to a time when men where men. A time before everything had to be PG-13 and men became all metorsexaul and started wearing make up and buying Joop Jump for men. Back when if you wanted to smell "nice" you bought something Manly with a name like Brut or Old Spice. Heroes Shed No Tears follows the desperate flight through the Golden triangle of Chan Chung and his men as they try and make a better life for themselves by completing one last desperate mercenary mission. Joined on the way by Chung’s sister in law and son, as well as a French tourist they save from an attempted rape at the hands of a Vietnamese officer and a recluse white former US soldier from Vietnam who was once saved by Chung. In hot pursuit how ever are the men of the drug lord they captured. These are soon joined by those of the officer whose eye Chung shoots out of his head while saving the tourist. He in turn enlists the help of a Vietnamese jungle tribe with deadly tracking skills. As the odds mount up against Chung the flight through Vietnam becomes desperate and things get very bloody indeed.

Starring Eddy Ko (Hitman in the Hand of Buddha, Peacock King, PTU) as Chan Chung leader of the Chinese hit squad who gives a great performance as the grizzled hero. Featuring sadly deceased Hong Kong Legend Lam Ching-Ying(Close Encounters of the Spooky Kind,  Mr. Vampire). As well as a great supporting cast. I personally love this type of film and most of Woo's eighties work in general. While not packed with the "Bullet Ballet" style action scenes Woo was to make famous, it is filled with old school shoot em up style scenes and packs in a good amount of gore. When someone dies in this movie it’s messy and harsh, just the way it should be. It even has an irritating kid in the form of Chung’s son; you know the kind that gets people killed trying to save him. At first he annoyed me, but then I realised being annoyed at the kid is part of the fun, you can sit munching on your snack and drinking a beer while shouting at the TV screen "For god sake will someone just kill that fucking kid already". And Lam Ching-Ying's character does indeed have a good try at killing the kid by putting him in the middle of a ring of burning crops ... YAY! The great thing about this film and many of the Hong Kong films of the time is there is no guarantee who will live and who will die, in Heroic bloodshed movies being the hero does not automatically make you safe.

Buy Heroes Shed No Tears and reclaim your *Manhood

*I am in no way saying woman will not love this slice of macho fun too.






Following their success working with Tony Jaa, director Prachya Pinkaew and stuntman / fight choreorapher Panna Rittikrai decided to search for a female martial arts star. A young woman named JeeJa Yanin auditioned for a part in a project they were working on and Panna saw the possibilties. Already proficient in the Korean martial art Tae Kwondo, she then spent nearly two years of grueling training adding new skills including, of course, Thailands own native art Muay Thai.

The oddly named Chocolate is JeeJa's debut starring role and while she's not a match for Jaa in terms of being a stunt person, she certainly is impressive and arguably Chocolate is better than both Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong. JeeJa is fast and flexible with impressive tae kwondo kicking skills (which always look impressive on screen) and an arsonal of mixed martial arts skills. In JeeJa Yanin, Thailands martial arts svengalis have discoverd female martial arts gold.

As to the film itself, it follows the simple 'you have something of mine give it back or I will hit you really hard' theme that has served them well in Jaa's two starring roles. Still it's a good a reason to hit people as any other except maybe the all time classic; revenge. JeeJa Yanin plays a young autistic woman who has the abilty to mimic any martial arts form she watches. Thus a diet of kung fu films growing up makes her a self taught master of the fighting arts. These skills come in handy when her mother falls ill with cancer and she sets out with her fat cousin to collect monies owed to her former loanshark parent. For some reason every simple business owner she visits employs double as deadly henchmen, so there's plenty of beatings to be handed out. Of course there's also a "big boss" in this case complete with uber bad hair. Villain No. 8 is her mother's former business partner / employer and former lover. He's not happy that his girl went off with the Yakuza that became her father and has made it clear they are to stay well away from his gang's territory. Inevitably, there's a big showdown in which beatings are handed out at a furious rate and JeeJa gets to showcase her skills against some top rate fighting talent including both male and female world champion level kick boxers. My personal favourite fight is against Kittitat Kowahagul's "Epileptic boxer", though it would seem his onscreen condition is more akin to tourettes with his ticks.

So what am I saying? Well the plot is serviceable, the acting is OK, the cinematography etc is good and the onscreen combat is really top notch. As 2008 draws to a close I think it's pretty safe to say this is the best martial arts film you will see this year, though Ong Bak 2 will more than likely surpass it if the trailers and promo footage are anything to go by. Essentially after that it's going to be a case of waiting for the Thai super teamup move between Yanin and Jaa which has surely got to be high on martial arts cinema fans wish list after this impressive debut.

Chocolate - Trailer


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This Thai / Japanese commercial for green tea has to be one of the best ads ever made.

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