25 October 2001 | eibon09
Bridge Between ABT2 & The Killer
John Woo gangster pic that involved the direction of a couple other people including Ma Wu and Danny Lee. Really the last Triad picture John Woo would do in his career because for one, The Killer is a hitman portrait film. Also, Bullet in the Head uses different genres to move the story along. Even Hard-Boiled which includes a triad gang war is a film that is looking from the outside. Yi Dan Qun Ying/Just Heroes(1987) is the last film for John Woo that focused on the insides and mentality of the triad organize crime society.
Closer in plot to Rich & Famous(1987) than the A Better Tomorrow films by John Woo. Very good action crime flick by John Woo that although flawed is much better than his Hollywood films of Broken Arrow(1996) and Mission:Impossible 2(2000). Suffers from some of the same flaws that was apparent in Heroes Shed no Tears(1985). Includes inconsistency in story, acting, and direction. Still Just Heroes(1987) is a worthwhile John Woo pic because of the excellent action set pieces.
Does bog down during the dramatic scenes but only in small doses. I find it interesting to see people who are supposedly close start setting up affinities with whoever will be the new boss of the gang. Deals with a gang war that begins after the elder boss abdicates his position of power due to being assassinated. The opening of Just Heroes(1987) sets the tone for what will happen for the rest of the film. Just Heroes(1987) is a Triad take on the King Lear story although not as grandeaur or magnificent as Akira Kurosawa's treatment of the same subject in Ran(1985).
At certain times the film becomes a satire of A Better Tomorrow(1986) and A Better Tomorrow 2(1987). In fact I feel that some of the ideas used in Just Heroes are left over from ABT and ABT2. One of the characters who is a protege of Wai(triad turned fisherman) fantasizes about being like Mark Gor from A Better Tomorrow(1986). He even recites some of Chow Yun Fat's famous lines from John Woo's breakthrough motion picture. The best parody is when the young man puts hand guns in flower pots just like Mark Gor during the resturant shootout in ABT.
A rare dramatic role for Hong Kong Comedy king, Stephen Chow who passes with flying colors. The main characters in Just Heroes(1987) like in the director's post ABT and pre Hollywood films are looking for spirital ablution in order to start anew. One of the few times in a Hong Kong film where Danny Lee does not portray a Police officer. The version of Just Heroes(1987) on video is missing the scene where before the ex-girlfriend of Wai dies she whispers to him of who is responsible for the death of the gang's late boss. Yi Dan Qun Ying/Just Heroes(1987) contains an awesome gunbattle that is one of John Woo's best in one of his HK films.