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Review Mercenaries from Hong Kong a.k.a. Lie mo zhe (1982): Rare but brilliant Shaw brothers outing into Gun fu!

genre: gun fu, martial arts, action

When you think Shaw Brothers, you think Kung fu. But in the many years that the studio has been around they have been trying out all kinds of other genres, and Mercenaries from Hong Kong is the bold attempt into making a modern day action film that was the rage back then. An early bloodshed title if you will. Although without the traits known to that specific genre. Although I have to say, they came quite close.

Ti Lung is the mercenary with a golden heart. He doesn't kill for money alone. No, he also kills to right the wrongs done to innocents. When he successfully assassinates a gang leader, he gets approached by Candice Yu. She proposes the deal of the century, and Luo Li (Ti Lung) wastes no time in assembling a team of mercenaries to accomplish the requested mission. It's funny how a pretty ruthless assassin isn't more paranoid concerning He Ying (Candice Yu). I mean she is beautiful, but when she is playing innocent and vulnerable she couldn't be more fake. And he is not the only one who falls for it. We get introduced to the team and after some necessary team bonding they are on their way. 

I liked how the film, while for the most part serious, isn't afraid to have comedic moments. It is to be expected from an older Wong Jing, but apparently a younger Wong Jing was game too. Except far more reserved and tolerable. It actually helps to give some characters some depth, which pays off when events go wrong. But like almost every Wong Jing film, the pacing is relentless. Not a moment is wasted. Honestly, I watched this after On the Run, which I didn't enjoy as much, but realized I was having fun throughout. I was chuckling, laughing and enjoying the action. Perhaps not entirely fair since that film was intended to be a serious crime drama and Mercenaries from Hong Kong clearly is far more light-hearted. Action wise, though, it's stellar. Nice choreographed gun combat interchanged with the old school hand-to-hand combat you can expect from the veterans of the Shaw Brothers studio. However, it obviously takes a backseat to the military combat. It's done so well that I wonder why they haven't made more of them.

In any case, I can surely recommend this title. Even for a now older title, it still holds up quite well. And it certainly will give you the action fix you crave!

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