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Review A Hero Never Dies a.k.a. A Hero with True Heart a.k.a. Chan sam ying hung (1998): Not really heroic bloodshed!

genre: action, crime, heroic bloodshed

Some reviewers compare this movie to John Woo's A Better Tomorrow. I think that is very misleading. 

Because the action is nothing like the great shootouts in that film. Only the ending came close to a shootout we are used to seeing in the majority of heroic bloodshed titles. I think this a more a drama about these hit men who have a special kind of relationship. They are rivals who respect each other nothing more nothing less. The girlfriends add some good emotional context to their personalities. If you hear about a title like Hero Never Dies you expect some mayhem, or at least a lot of bloodshed. But it simply isn't there. Except for the ending which was a bit short. I do get that this film is paying tribute to the old genre and at the same time is trying to do something unique and different. In this case you could call it the Johnnie To touch. Most of his movies share the same themes but in all honestly only a few of them I liked. Exiled is an example of that. Actually that title comes closer to being a true heroic bloodshed title than this one. Another title you should be looking out for is The Mission. 


After seeing many of these so called heroic bloodshed titles / gun fu like Hero Never Dies I realize that John Woo really is the God of Heroic Bloodshed. No other directors have come close to making bloodshed titles like he did (A Better Tomorrow, The Killer, Hard Boiled). And I really wished he would go back or at least make a new one to show them how it is done. Johnnie To clearly has another vision. But what? I don't know what he is trying to tell us but often his minimalistic approach to characterization and storytelling get in the way of whatever he is trying to convey. Consequence is that I lose interest and then automatically focus on the stuff that is compelling. Like the action. In Exiled this worked marvelously. Unfortunately this is not the case with this title. It failed to involve me story wise and action wise. I did not care about any of the characters. That is never good.


So is this title worth your time? No, I don't think so. It was never compelling or engaging and the little action that was present certainly wasn't enough to redeem itself. 

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