Just Heroes (1989)
Magnum Films Limited
Cast: John Chiang (David Chiang), Danny Lee, Chen Kuan Tai (Chan Koon Tai), Stephen
Chow Sing Chi, Wu Ma, Tien Niu, Cally Kwong, James Wong, Shing Fui On, Joe Ngai Chun,
Wong Shee Tong, Tien Ching, Tang Chia, Lo Lieh, Cheng Lui (Cheng Lei), Yuen Woo Ping, Bill Tung Pui,
Writer: Ni Kuang, Tommy Hau Music: Romeo Diaz, James Wong
Associate Producer: John Chiang, Danny Lee Producer: Tsui Hark
Director: John Woo, Wu Ma (Ng Ma)
Genre: Gangs | Drama | Action Length: 102 minutes
"Maybe I'm pessimistic. Time goes on, but fightings never stop."
Firstly, there's two things wrong with the title. Just Heroes doesn't have any actual heroes in it,
but the characters are presented as such. Made in 1989 between John Woo's watershed films
A Better Tomorrow and The Killer, it has a similar feel to those movies, but is far blander
overall. Sharing directing duties with Woo is Wu Ma, who also co-stars.
Apparently the film was made as a tribute/benefit for Chang Cheh, which would make sense
considering how many of Cheh's friends and colleagues appear in the film. What we have here is
a purely generic gangster picture. A gang boss is assassinated, and internal power struggles over
his successor and suspected traitorship causes division within the organization.
Only men could make, or even enjoy this kind of movie. It's saturated with all the brotherhood
crap from Woo's other movies, with women playing peripheral roles of little significance. It's sad
to see actors like Chen Kuan Tai and David Chiang in such uninspiring roles, paling in
comparison to their former greatness.
Just Heroes is just a soap opera held together by several explosive gunfights and some popsicle
sticks. The opening battle takes place at a boat dock, then there's a night battle in a quarry, a
scene where Danny Lee and David Chiang team up in a drug refining factory, and a final battle
in a mansion. The only humorous moments derive from Joe Ngai Chun's character, a kid
infatuated with the gang lifestyle who quotes lines from his favorite mob flick-
A Better Tomorrow.
After over an hour and a half of baloney and bloodshed, Just Heroes redeems itself a tiny bit
with one pertinent line of dialogue. During a climactic
standoff in the film's finale, a character says,
"You can kill me, but it doesn't mean you are good guys. In fact, we are all shits."
Related viewing: A Better Tomorrow (1986) Chow Yjn Fat, Ti Lung, Leslie Cheung
The Killer (1989) Chow Yun Fat, Danny Lee, Sally Yeh
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