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Film / Mercenaries from Hong Kong

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Hong Kong's attempt at The Wild Geese, with ALL the explosions.

Merceneries From Hong Kong is a 1982 Hong Kong (duh) action film with an Ensemble Cast, starring Ti Lung, Lo Lieh, Michael Chan, Wong Yue and various Shaw Brothers alumni as the titular mercenary team.

A band of former commandos from the Sino-Vietnamese war, the titular mercenery gang have since left the days of killing behind, living relatively normal lives in Hong Kong. Former Corporal Luo Li still works as a hitman, Sergeant Ruan Nam-Sing now works as a chef, Lieutenant Lei Tai struggles as a single father with a terminally ill child, the youngest Private "Curry" works in a mechanic workshop, while the rest of the crew have since disbanded.

When the opportunity for one last, massive paycheck from Madam He Ying - the rich heiress and only child of a recently-murdered Hong Kong tycoon - invites Luo to reassemble his gang for a mission to investigate her father's demise, the team is more than eager to accept it, either for financial reasons or as a chance to re-live their glory days. But after arriving in the hostile jungles of South-East Asia, they discover their mission isn't what it initially seems.

This film provides examples of:

  • Anyone Can Die: Luo is the only named character left alive by the end of the movie. Keep in mind this is a film with an Ensemble Cast of up to dozens.
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: The assault on the guerilla camp starts with the mercenary team rushing out, guns-a-blazing, killing the first wave of guerillas… and then they promptly retreat into a nearby bunker when trucks containing guerilla reinforcements arrives.
  • Attack Hello: The first thing Luo and Sing did, after seeing each other for the first time in years ever since the war ended, is to whip out machetes and fight for a while until their battle reaches a stalemate, where they then discard their weapons and embrace each other in a hug. It is subtle Foreshadowing of their eventual Duel to the Death near the end of the film.
  • Badass Biker: In the opening action scene Luo gets ambushed by a team of bikers after executing a drug lord. Later on, the mercenary team can be seen favouring motorcycles as transports.
  • Badass Crew: The entire mercenary team, who may be retired soldiers, but can kick all kinds of ass.
  • Bald of Evil: He Ying's right-hand man and The Dragon, who doesn't bat an eye to follow her orders including kidnapping a child.
  • Batter Up!: One scene had the mercenary team being cornered in a parking lot by a small band of gangsters. The mercenaries responds by taking out aluminum bats from the boot of Sing's vehicle and going crazy with them.
  • Beauty Is Bad: He Ying may be the evillest character in the entire movie, but she’s pretty easy on the eyes too. Being played by Hong Kong supermodel and ex-pageant Candice (On-On) Yu probably helps.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Curry may be a prankster and the team's comic relief, but when it comes to killing mooks he's damn good at taking names like the rest of the mercenaries.
  • Booby Trap: The jungle path to the guerrilla village is littered with these, including pitfalls, spike traps, garottes and similar obstacles.
  • Chef of Iron: Sing works as a chef when he's not taking names and kicking ass.
  • Dead Man Writing: Blanche, one of the mercenaries, is discovered strangled to death, and his last actions appears to be writing a blood message of the murderer's identity, which Lei thought was Curry. Turns out it was Sing. Their names, in Chinese alphabets, starts with a rectangular symbol.
  • Dies Wide Open: Sing managed a mournful gaze into Luo as he dies, from an artery slash from Luo.
  • Evil Former Friend: Sing, formerly Luo’s best friend and most trusted ally, only to be seduced by He Ying’s promises of wealth and fame and turning on his allies.
  • Foreign Remake: Of The Wild Geese.
  • Hate Sink: He Ying is the most despicable and irredeemable character in the entire story, arranging for her father’s assassination to usurp his wealth, and then hiring the team of desperate, down-on-their-luck ex-commandoes on a suicide mission to eliminate her competition only to have them killed off when they returned. She seduced Sing to join her with money and promises of fame, and then manipulates the entire team of Fire-Forged Friends to kill each other. Additionally, Ying have NO qualms in subjecting her captives through Cold-Blooded Torture, or ordering her mooks to Leave No Survivors. She finally crossed the line by arranging to have Lei’s daughter to be kidnapped to force Luo out of hiding, only to ruthlessly have the child killed anyways. She gets a satisfying Karmic Death when Luo fires a rocket launcher into her getaway vehicle, the same rocket launcher she supplied to him earlier in the film. Luo said it best near the end of the film:
    Luo: "You’re the sickest bitch I’ve ever laid eyes upon!"
  • I Have a Family: Lei’s reason for taking on the mission, which is to fund his sick daughter’s cancer operation.
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy: The guerrilla leader is killed when Sing shoves the tip of an Uzi into his mouth and pulls the trigger while pointing at his throat. We didn’t see the aftermath however, just hearing the gunshots while the camera focus on Sing’s face.
  • Jaded Washout: Most of the mercenaries counts, which is the reason of their acceptance of the mission. Especially Sing, who still wishes he’s still back in the good ol’ days as a commando.
  • Kill the Cutie: Lei’s daughter, the cancer-stricken innocent child doesn’t outlive the credits. Curry, the youngest mercenary member, may also count, although he gets his own Dying Moment of Awesome.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: The final Duel to the Death between Luo and Sing. The latter have his machine gun trained at Luo, but considering Luo to be a Worthy Opponent, and for old time's sake, they promptly decide to duke it out with machetes instead.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: The mercenary team have a rather impressive one after receiving their weapons cache from He Ying.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Or The Woman Behind The Man, to be precise.
  • Machete Mayhem: Luo and Sing both favors using machetes as melee weapons, especially Sing. In fact their final confrontation consist the two of them using their own machetes to hack each other to bits
  • Manipulative Bitch: He Ying, who tricks the entire mercenary team into killing each other after using them to kill off her competition. She also counts as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
  • Mutual Kill: Curry faces off The Dragon while Luo pursues He Ying. The Dragon manage to shoot Curry through the chest, but not before Curry impale his opponent through the gut. While The Dragon dies immediately, Curry on the other hand gets to have a Dying Smirk.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: He Ying doesn't need to lift a finger to make her the greatest threat to the mercenaries' lives.
  • Oh, Crap!: He Ying have a really obvious one on her face (complete with Vertigo Effect zooming in on her) when Luo blasts that manipulative, double-crossing, sadistic bitch from hell back to where she belongs with a rocket launcher.
  • Peekaboo Corpse: Upon reaching the guerrilla village, the mercenaries are greeted by the rotting, skeletal remains of a victim impaled on a spike trap.
  • Playing Possum: He Ying's dragon does this more than once to get the drop on the mercenaries, in fact this is how he inflicted a mortal injury on Lei.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Curry, the Tagalong Kid, the youngest and most hilarious mercenary member who likes pranking his teammates and crack jokes every now and then to ease the moment.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: After accepting the mission, Luo seeks out all his friends and gathers them all for the assignment.
  • Red Herring Mole: We are supposed to believe Wen is The Mole because of him being reluctantly forced to join the mercenary team, but later on he gets killed by an unseen assailant, which is revealed later to be Sing, the real mole.
  • Retired Badass: The entire mercenary team, naturally. They consist of ex-soldiers and former commandos, whom have left the battlefield years ago only to accept one last mission for a paycheck.
  • Slashed Throat: More than one mook suffers this fate, and also Sing.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Loads and loads of explosions all over the place throughout the movie, but especially at the end of the guerrilla camp raid, when the mercenaries detonates every explosive they installed, turning the bunkers, barracks, and weapons cache into chains of explosions.
  • Take Care of the Kids: The final words of the mortally-wounded Lei, before Luo is forced to deliver a Mercy Kill, is to take care of his cancer-stricken daughter by using his last paycheck to fund her operation in the United States. Sadly, that doesn’t happen.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Many in the film, but special mention goes to the guerrilla commander who gets an entire clip of Uzi fired into his throat.
  • Traitor Shot: A few of these are focused on Sing. Keep in mind this is before his teammates (or the audience) are aware of his true identity as a traitor, it’s a deliberate form of foreshadowing from the movie itself.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: Each and every member of the commando team have a quick flashback of their days back in the war, mostly of them fighting and killing guerrillas, before segueing back to their normal, boring civilian lives.
  • The Vamp: He Ying managed to convince Sing to turn on his friends with a combination of seducing and bribing him.
  • Walking Swimsuit Scene: He Ying have one early in the film, long before her true agenda is revealed. This is probably the movie’s way to trick the audience into accepting her as this beautiful and completely innocent lady before surprising them with the twist.
  • Workout Fanservice: The movie opens with Luo-Li working out in his apartment. In a tight-fitting singlet that reveals his abs, and speedos.
  • Would Hurt a Child: He Ying and her henchman, who goes as far as to kidnap and kill off Lei's daughter.