Undoubtedly, one of the most well-received aspects of being an avid Arrow Video collector nowadays means being exposured to rounds of cult classic titles long-adorned by certain niches. Specifically, we’re talking those of the Hong Kong cinema kind and folks especially fond of Arrow’s Shawscope 2K restorations of late, including and not limited to Wong Jing’s third directorial outing in his career with Ti Lung starrer, Mercenaries From Hong Kong.
Ti Lung plays Lok Li, a hired killer working in Hong Kong already wanted for murdering the son of a crimeboss. Before he can escape to Thailand until the heat blows over, Lok gets enveloped into even more trouble at the behest of Ho Ying (Candice Yu), a wealthy tycoon’s daughter who claims she is being blackmailed by the assassin who allegedly murdered her father and stole a highly confidential audiotape.
Assembling a team of six to retrieve the tape and the killer, Lok gathers old special forces buddies he served with: Yun Namsing (Chan Wai Man) a former waiter on hard times, Brand (Nat Chan) a womanizer and explosives expert, Lei Tai (Lo Lieh), a sharpshooter struggling to care for his special needs daughter, Hung Fan (Wang Lung Wei), an underground fighter working as a mechanic, and Curry (Wong Yue), a magician skilled at lockpicking.
The rest of the film sees our dirty half-dozen battling their way through hoards of Lok’s own enemies and eventually setting out to Cambodia with Ho’s assistance, arming themselves with covert weapons to help trek into the jungle and into a guerilla camp where Ho suspects her father, Naiman (Ching Miao) is in hiding and in the service under his blood brother who leads their guerilla faction. The mission itself proves to be just as deadly as explosive when the mission, albeit successful, slowly starts to unravel, uncovering shocking revelations about the true purpose of the mission, and loyalites that were never once subject to question.
I certainly didn’t expect any particular plot twists of any kind until a moment of intimacy midway into the film between Lok and a female character. Watch enough films and you start to notice patterns in stories and even possibly predict certain events that might occur. It definitely didn’t take away from the enjoyment of this film, as fun as the performances all were to watch.
Featuring action sequences by Tong Kai, Huang Pei-Chih, and Yuen Bun, Mercenaries From Hong Kong is a fresh action classic with a top-tier cast, led by Ti Lung in his prime. The ending leaves a bit to be desired as it breaks the mood some, but it certainly bookends a film that stands exemplary of the kind of cinema that remains long heralded by fans far and wide in a once-bustling market that now remains a thing of bygone history.
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.