No Mercy for the Viewer Either

Rattling off No Mercy’s cliches would fill this page. The tough guy cop, jurisdictional arguments, a pony-tailed villain, femme fatale; No Mercy layers them on en masse. It’s tiring.

So too is Richard Gere, starring as a Chicago cop, traveling to New Orleans to avenge his murdered partner. No Mercy begins at a car wash (really a stakeout) leading to comical one-liners, a wild action scene, and a chewing out by the precinct’s jerk captain. Seems derivative yet fun, but the murder changes Gere’s character. He’s vicious and vindictive.

It’s insultingly impure, even crass. That goes for No Mercy as a whole

In New Orleans, he tracks down his lead: Kim Basinger. Handcuffed together, Gere begins to manhandle her. She’s slapped, slammed into walls, dragged violently through a swamp, and otherwise abused at Gere’s will – and he’s the hero. More than a femme fatale, Basinger plays a victim to this dominating male cast.

Even by ‘80s macho standards, No Mercy is painful to watch. Gere is propped up by looks and marginal action credibility, spouting tough guy dialog with a hard-R tinge. Predictability, Basinger finds this attractive. Then Gere learns she’s illiterate, a point of empathy. Rather than beat her, he beds her – dominating her then, too.

Credibility is low. Action doesn’t rise above stunted and tension rapidly dries. Police dialog sounds drawn from a screenwriting playbook, the villains no better. Their plot revolves around sourcing illegal cheap labor, a hard knock against then Reagan era policies, furthering Gere’s cause.

Via the setting, the culture is left abandoned. New Orleans looks lively at first, but is soon degraded as Gere walks down a street, brothels and strip clubs calling to him. Chicago looks foggy; New Orleans looks more sinful than Vegas. It’s insultingly impure, even crass. That goes for No Mercy as a whole too.


Mill Creek issues No Mercy in their Retro VHS line. The convincing packaging (smaller scale aside) is the best thing going for this release.

Ludicrously poor compression swallows each frame whole. DVDs make artifacting less apparent. If grain is left, that’s lost in digital blocking. Detail remains only in the tightest close-ups. Scenes with fog, haze, or smoke collapse further still. Edge enhancement doesn’t help.

At the source print, dirt and scratches rain down. No Mercy doesn’t appear touched in a few decades, scanned for early DVD (maybe) then left alone. This print is begging for clean-up. Even color wanes. Primaries lose their vigor to age.

If anything survives, that’s contrast. Brightness holds true, and black levels fall to suitable levels. Image depth and density work in No Mercy’s favor. Shame then that’s lost amid everything else.


Thin range comes alive a touch during the finale. Some shotgun blasts connect in the low-end, releasing No Mercy from a wobbly, treble-heavy existence. Fidelity lacks clarity.

A wide stereo spread captures the action well. Activity fills the proper channel during action, and even with ambiance. Listen in the swamp as insects chirp, distinct in each speaker.



Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

No Mercy
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Stock noir themes flood into No Mercy, a dull ’80s cop flick with uncomfortable aggression from star Richard Gere.

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