Fantasia always brings important genre films from around the world. Each and every year it affords cinephiles the opportunity to see old and new films on a big screen. This year is no different as we get the chance to see a new 2k restoration from the original 35 mm of Mercenaries From Hong Kong.
Written and directed by one of Hong Kong’s most divisive and prolific filmmakers, Jing Wong (Monkey King, Chasing the Dragon). Wong has 120 films in his IMDB director category. The man has made film after film since 1981. That means over the past 40 years, he has made on average 3 films per year. Impressive! Early on in his career, in 1982 he made Mercenaries From Hong Kong (Lie Mo Zhe). It was Wong announcing his entry into the Hong Kong action film world. What an announcement it was!
For fans of the Shaw Brothers films, this will have a look, style and feel that will be very familiar to you. Definitely is of the same type of action film with gun fights, car chases, humour, violence, and plenty of hand-to-hand combat.
After a tycoon is killed by an assassin (Phillip Ko – The Nugget, Shaolin Brothers), his daughter approaches a Vietnam vet (Ti Lung – The Legend of the Drunken Master, The Warrior’s Way) asking him to track down and kidnap the assassin. He agrees and assembles a team of mercenaries operating in Hong Kong to carry this out. The team is made up of men with all kinds of different skills from a magician who is highly motivated by money to a ladies’ man to a boxer, and a sniper. They are all lured in by the crazy amount of money the daughter is offering.
The mercenaries travel to Cambodia as the assassin is holed up in a heavily guarded camp. What started off as plausible, now becomes a mission that seems incredibly dangerous and next to impossible. That is because the camp is defended by a wide variety of booby traps.
The team begins to wonder about the woman who has hired them. Asking if she is on their side or against them. The plot thickens!
While the film starts off with plenty of action and laughs the last 30 minutes or so see it turn into a rather violent and dark kind of film. Then the story will involve twist after twist. Also typical of the genre. But don’t expect a film with a lot of layers. The raison d’etre here is action. For fans of Hong Kong action films, this will be rather familiar. Fans of 80s Hong Kong action films will lap it up.