AKA: Tragic Heroes
Manadrin title: Yi Daam Kwan Ying (Righteous Courage Group of Heroes)
Magnum / Golden Princess, 1987, 97 min.
Stars: David Chiang ("Wai"), Danny Lee ("Sou"), Chan Koon Tai ("Tai"), Stephen Chow
Directors: John Woo, Wu Ma
Producer: Tsui Hark
Writers: Tommy Hau, Kuang Nieh
Cinematographers: Cho Wai Ki, Yee Tung Lung
Editor : Hung Choi
Available on video (widescreen and subtitled) from Tai Seng
The assassination of the beloved head of a crime family sets up a power struggle between his three adopted sons (one of which is played by Danny Lee -- hell must have frozen over for a minute because he's actually a gangster here instead of a cop). The plot thickens when there is evidence that one of them is a traitor.
While having many of the elements that make for a great heroic bloodshed movie, Just Heroes falls flat. The plot exposition moves at a snail's pace; even though the movie is only around 90 minutes, it seems much longer because so much time is seemingly wasted on unnecessary scenes. The characters aren't very well developed and their motivations are cloudy at best -- this may be due to the fact that Just Heroes (at least the version I saw) has some of the worst subtitling I have ever seen in a HK movie. Just about every line in the movie is mistranslated so badly, it makes the story almost unfollowable. The references to A Better Tomorrow (made by a Mark Gor wannabe) are strange and somewhat unsettling (in that Woo would need to be a vulture towards his own work, though in Woo's defense he stated in an interview that the character was intended as a parody). Actionwise, there are some pretty impressive sequences (especially the final shootout), but since we don't care about the characters, they lack the punch of a movie like A Better Tomorrow.
Even big John Woo fans will have a hard time sitting through this one.
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