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A group of mercenaries, led by the tough-as-nails Chung, are sent into Thailand to capture a general, who also happens to be one of the Golden Triangle's biggest drug runners. Register so you can check out ratings by your friends, family members, and like-minded members of the FA community of users.
Heroes Shed No Tears is the story of a group of Chinese mercenaries on a mission to extract a drug lord from the Indochina area. Heroes Shed No Tears is a mile-a-minute action romp directed by John Woo in his early years. The mercenaries themselves were more endearing than I expected, mainly because each one seems to be given something to do.
John Woo is frequently credited with reinventing Hong Kong cinema thanks to his distinctive, bombastic take on the action genre, but the roots of his career lie firmly within the traditions of the HK studio industry.
This is the vengeful, now one-eyed colonel who remains on the trail of the mercenaries for the rest of the film, subsisting on in-the-field injections of morphine, coaxing the headhunting savages with painted faces to hunt down his prey, and doing devilish things like kidnapping Kenny, trapping him in a ring of fire, and then driving away laughing assuming the boy is done for. What the film does have is guts, an almost reckless desire to blow the audience away that makes it nonetheless an intensely enjoyable experience, especially in contrast to Woo’s more recent, utterly safe output. We don’t do comments anymore, but you may contact us here or find us on Twitter or Facebook. Not Coming to a Theater Near You is a film resource that assumes a bias towards older, often unpopular, and sometimes unknown films that merit a second look.
Heroes Shed No Tears is a 1986 war film directed by John Woo that follows a team of Chinese mercenaries who are hired by the Thai government to take down a Vietnamese drug lord hiding in the Golden Triangle. All these elements, which are interconnected in his cinema, are presented below in our two conversations. Many thanks to producer Zoe Chen at the Ruddy Morgan Organization who kindly helped us catching up with Peter Chan.
During these two years, we re-cut and re-shoot a lot of stuff for Heroes Shed No Tears, and what is left was only half John Woo’s.
After rescuing Chung's son and sister-in-law, they head to the Vietnamese border, where they witness a group of soldiers torturing and executing a group of reporters.
Along the way, mercenary leader Chan Chung (Eddy Ko) angers a Vietnamese Colonel (Lam Ching-Ying, who genre fans will recognize as the Taoist Priest from the Mr. One is a habitual gambler who finds himself in a pretty harrowing and hilarious game of dice, another one is a greedy dude who bites off way more than he can chew. It’s fast-paced and very furious. Ching-Ying’s Vietnamese Colonel is vicious and a terrific main villain for an action movie (at one point, to get revenge on a captured Chung, he actually sews Chung’s eye-lids open and hangs him in the direction of the sun – youch!).
Before the enormous breakout success of his 1986 film A Better Tomorrow, Woo worked his way up from production assistant at Cathay Studios and Shaw Brothers to assistant director under master kung-fu director Chang Cheh before he turned to directing. Somewhere in the jungles of the Golden Triangle, which straddles the borders of Thailand, Laos, Burma, and Vietnam, a corrupt, drug-running general lurks, plying his evil trade with an army of expendable guards.
The precise reason for their presence in the film is a little mystifying – it seems they live nearby?
There is an unbelievable amount of shooting, much of it from an unpleasantly short range: several times to the head, once to the butt.

Indeed, while Heroes Shed No Tears successfully paves Woo’s entry in the modern action genre, it still lacks many of the distinctive traits of his best work.
He has not only a wide understanding of the cinema industry in Asia, but he has also experienced the Hollywood system first hand (in 1998 for the DreamWorks produced The Love Letter). I met Chan in Shanghai after the few hectic months he spent for the promotion of the Perhaps Love release in mainland China on Dec 1st, 2005. I was actually back from a summer vacation, and I was recruited to be an interpreter on the film --that required someone who knew films, who could speak English, Chinese and Thai. I was actually involved in the post-production because I was stuck with the producer who was fighting with Woo.
I was an interpreter [on Heroes Shed No Tears] and we worked with Thai, Korean, European, French (there were two French actors in the movie) and I always followed him.
We need styles that are quick and easy to maintain without having to wake up at the break of dawn every morning to get it right. Deep inside the borderlands of Burma,Thailand and cambodia, a team of mercenaries were sent by the Thai government to capture a renegade drug lord alive. The mercenaries decide to help out and Chung shoots the Vietnamese colonel in the eye, which causes him to hunt down the group mercilessly. The main protagonist, Chung, is well played by Eddy Ko and he has a son that tags along for the ride. The break-neck pace is entertaining as are the multitude of inventive obstacles that are thrown at our heroes. His first film, the independently produced martial-arts film Young Dragons, soon gave way to a contract with the legendary Golden Harvest Productions, where he directed over a dozen films: some martial-arts films and Cantonese operas, but mainly comedies. Somewhere nearby, a small group of mercenaries led by bad-ass family man Chan Chung (played by the steely-eyed Eddie Ko) prepares to attack. Woo shot the film in Thailand with a ragtag crew who were, it seems, largely mercenaries themselves, and according to the director, the special-effects technicians, such as they were, helped cut costs and save value production time by using live ammunition instead of squibs.
Please make the message constructive, you are fully responsible for the legality of anything you contribute. Chan would explore any possibilities a question offers and gives very detailed answers on various levels.
We are ever so grateful to Chan, for his kindness and patience to discuss in much detail his career and love for cinema. I spent a big part of my adolescence in Thailand; I spent six years in Thailand, around my junior to high school age. When I saw ABT in theatre, I actually saw a lot of the John Woo I saw in Heroes Shed No Tears, which was the first Woo’s gunfight movie. When Woo walked away from the movie and also left the studio - he left Golden Harvest to join Cinema City - he went to Taiwan where he had two of the worst years of his life. But Golden Harvest could make a movie and not release it if they think it was not going to work. However, the capture is only the beginning of a wrenching journey into a savage, surreal world of violence, horror,and madness where guns are tools of survival and death strikes at any moment.

The group's numbers begin to dwindle as they are hunted by Taiwanese and Vietnamese troops, as well as native headhunters.
Clocking in at 86 minutes, Heroes Shed No Tears features maybe 1 and a half to 2 minute breaks between action scenes.
Now, before you roll your eyes thinking that there’s cute kid action, Chung’s son is pretty awesome.
Kenny, in particular, poses various problems: he frequently sheds tears and occasionally endangers skin-of-the-teeth getaways by needing to pee.
Woo had not yet found his foothold nor the slick, urban style that would make him stand out from his contemporaries. In this instance, he claims, no one was hurt, but there are so many fiery explosions set off in the film that there must have been more than a few singed eyebrows. He sees his films within the whole picture and while talking, he effortlessly moves from one layer of conversation to the next. The first time there was slow motion during action and the first time people stop to chat in the middle of the battlefield.
Raw, brutal and unrelenting, John Woo's semi-homage to APOCALYPSE NOW also has Woo's trademark gun battles staged to operatic perfection and heartfelt melodrama that will make even the most stoic action fans shed a tear for HEROES SHED NO TEARS. Taking refuge at Chung's friend Jimmy's hideout provides no safety, as the crazed colonel launches an all-out attack where it seems if no one will survive. Joe cartoon (long hair, blue shirt, red bandana) and the drug empire are all after our hapless mercenaries as they make their way through treacherous jungles back to China and safety. He blows up a whole house in one scene and goes on a one-man mission to rescue his father in another.
There’s also not a whole lot of substance to the proceedings, but I didn’t really expect any.
Soon, after a wealth of voluptuous, slow-motion detonations and blithe pile-up of a couple of dozen corpses, the mercenaries are underway, having kidnapped the big boss with Chinese finger traps and a gun to the head, and fleeing headlong into the jungle, with the bad guys in hot pursuit.
If not tired and with a double latte Chan talks at once about the making of his films, his childhood, movie-making techniques, his love for Casablanca, the situation of the world cinema, his love for women and so on. Not a squib or plywood set is spared as rickety stilt houses are blown up and people are mowed down in droves as the mercenaries and Vietnamese soldiers rampage through the countryside. At one point he’s kidnapped by the evil Vietnamese Colonel and they build a ring of fire around the kid in a field, intending for the fire to eventually consume the middle of the ring, child and all. His spirit of self-sacrifice, a crucial trait for any Woo hero, is never more boldly on display than when he is saving Kenny from any number of abductions or not-so-certain deaths. The gore effects were actually pretty good with one on-screen bullet through the head looking fairly impressive for its time. He quickly digs a hole for himself and buries himself alive to survive being consumed by flames.

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