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Review Heroes Shed No Tears a.k.a. Ying xiong wu lei (1986): Even more insane than Face Off!

genre: action, war, drama, heroic bloodshed

You read it correctly. Heroes Shed No Tears is more insane than Face Off. And if you can recall that film you know it is one of the most ridiculous (but oh so entertaining) films ever made. Mind you John Woo himself agrees with this notion. Woo wasn't happy working for Golden Harvest and he would make any movie to get out of his contract. He found the script to be fairly simple and changed it up a bit to make it more emotional. The film includes scenes of sex and drug use that weren't shot by John Woo which you can tell since these scenes feel so misplaced and out of tone. Almost like the powers that be wanted to make their own little version of Apocalypse Now. John Woo had nothing to do with this and hadn't even seen the film in it's finished form. Let that sink in for a moment. The director of the film apparently wasn't involved with the editing and finished product. Woo himself commented that the film was all over the place in tone with sometimes being very emotional, something being as violent as a horror film. It was no wonder that this film got shelved.

Only after the success of A Better Tomorrow the film got released and I for one am happy that they did. Despite all the flaws and John Woo's work having been mistreated big time his stamp is still all over it. Might be rawer and more violent (that should say something to you) than the work we know and love him for but make no mistake the action is top notch. I agree with Woo that tonally this film is all over the place. Heroes Shed No Tears is filled with intense and violent moments that are quite dramatic. But they are interchanged with scenes where some of the characters get wrapped up in some goofy and comedic antics. Picture this. One of your long time buddies gets brutally murdered in front of your eyes. Would you shrub it off like nothing has happened and engage in some happy gambling where wives are used as currency? Exactly. While hugely entertaining for all the wrong reasons it detracts from the original John Woo experience we could have gotten had they allowed him to do his thing.

One other remarkable element of this film is the inclusion of a child actor. Believe it or not he is one of the many reasons this film is worth your time. At first he might seem to be your typical kid in distress. Except he is extraordinary. Not only is he one of the most resourceful kids known to man he also is incredibly brave and heroic. Remember this when you are introduced to him and at times you feel like strangling him. Ching-Ying Lam who you might know as the taoist priest in the Mr. Vampire franchise is the main antagonist and he is brilliantly evil.

Overall this early John Woo title definitely is one of the best in the heroic bloodshed genre. So if you haven't seen this do try to get a hold of a copy. However do keep in mind that the film is completely looney tunes and that you shouldn't take this film serious by any means. Although do be aware that as John Woo movies go this one is very gory and violent. 

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