Wednesday, April 8, 2009

John Woo's forgotten bloodshed

Here's about five minutes from the beginning...

According to "Asian Dvd Guide" there are no English friendly DVD releases of JUST HEROES. This UK VHS from MIA is the best release there is as it features new subtitles (i.e. not the wonkey cinema subs), it's letterboxed, and not least; this is the fully uncut version!! The version that ran in the Hong Kong cinemas was a shorter censored version.

I re-watched this film last night for the first time since the 90s. I wasn't too sure if I wanted to watch it at all as I remembered not liking it in particular back then. Actually, my perception of the film pretty much followed what most of the genre reviewers thought of it back then; JUST HEROES usually received lukewarm reviews saying it was a half-baked masterpiece compared to John Woo's true masterpieces, THE KILLER and his A BETTER TOMORROW series.

However, I must admit I was quite breath-taken last night cos, lo and behold, this film rules!! It turned out to be really good! I think most reviewers back then (including myself) wanted JUST HEROES to be a new THE KILLER or ABT. We all loved Chow Yun Fat as an über cool gunman and that was what was EXPECTED of John Woo: another film with a HERO! A loner. A Death Wish-Exterminator-Man-with-no-name character. But instead John Woo delivered a heroic bloodshed film without one masterful samurai-pistolero in the lead. Instead we got a film with multiple characters. Different layers. John Woo actually makes you have to remember multiple main characters. How dare he!! LOL.

I must admit my perception of JUST HEROES changed for the opposite: this is really good and you ought to check it out. Even if you (like me) saw it a long time ago and didn't care too much for it.

So is it on par with THE KILLER etc.??? Well, is it really necessary that I tell you, eh? Check it out yrself and make up yer own mind, paesano. The UK tape is available from Amazon UK.


  1. Great post.

    I have always loved JUST HEROES myself.

    Blogged about it here:

    Saw it with my brother at the Russell Cinemas, and stayed for the co-feature and main feature again.

    Then we returned two days later.

    I highly recommend the French DVD as it is uncut (several minutes longer) and a gorgeous transfer.

    No subs, though.

    The film is surprisingly complex and character-based.

    The Romeo Diaz/James Wong score is amazing.

    A nice non-comedy turn by Stephen Chow, too.

  2. Forget to mention that the Golden Cinema City LD is subbed, although the print is the cut HK theatrical.

  3. The Great Chang Cheh Executive Produces as well. A Legendary Director for the Shaw Brothers flicks from the Sixties, throughout the Seventies & into the Eighties & beyond. He made the Classic Jimmy Wang Yu starrers The One Armed Swordsman & Return Of The One Armed Swordsman to mention just two from his awesome resume.
    There are a lot of familiar themes of Honour & retribution in John Woo's movies that are respectfully re-used from Chang Cheh's films. A perfect Hong Kong combo for Just Heroes.
    Nice revisitation Jack, and good recommendation for John Woo newbies & fans who may have overlooked. Paul

  4. That tape was one of the first Woo-movies I bought, and I still have it and care for it :)

    It's a surprisingly good movie and I think the action is magificent. The shoot-out at the villa in the end (or is it in the end? I while since I saw it) is extremly spectacular. I like the small comedic touches to, where one of the characters hides the guns in like in A Better Tomorow.

  5. To all of you; Thanks for your comments.

    Pulp Phantom:
    Good that you like it so much, too! Now, a day later I already wanna watch it again! What I really like about it is the same as what you mention; its being so complex and character-based. It's not just about some spaghetti western style super gun fighter (although those flicks are fun too) but with more layers than that.

    Thanks for pointing me in the direction of the French DVD. If I figure out how to add subtitles I might have to buy one of those. However, you mention it's a few minutes longer; You mean longer than the cinema print, right?

    The UK vhs that I have is already longer than the cinema print and supposed to be uncut (according to "Asian Dvd Guide", but then again they could be in the wrong, no one's perfect, LOL).

    Thanks for your comments, mate! Yes, I hope newbies discover these films so they won't have to live empty and meaningless lives. LOL.

    This was one of the first Woo tapes you bought!? Your collection never ceases to amaze me!!

  6. I'm quite sure of it! Some years later me and my friends did an amature-action short movie titled "Just Killers", which was a reference both to Just Heroes and The Killer :)

  7. Really? Way cool! I'll have a look at that.

  8. Don't except to much, it was just a bunch of kids doing a movie :)