Here Come the Grenades

On its surface, Mercenaries from Hong Kong looks like a copy & paste of western action movies. Vietnam veterans re-team for a mission deep in Cambodia, mixing it up against drug dealers and other thugs. Gunfights and explosions ensue. In execution though, it’s pure Hong Kong action.

The closer Mercenaries from Hong Kong gets to its conclusion, the zanier it allows itself to be

Abundantly wacky and bonkers, bodies fly through the air from the propellant fireballs, but do so while flipping. Gunplay is eccentric, sure, but so is a ludicrous dart attack from a magician who lures his opponent in with puppeteered legs. Hashing things out in a parking garage, the hero gang sports baseball bats, and when cornered, a foe grabs a bat and hits himself in the head.

Add some baseless nudity, sex, and comedy too. Mercenaries from Hong Kong has the pastiche indicative of a Schwarzenegger or Stallone flick, even down to the rocket launchers. Commando came out three years after Mercenaries from Hong Kong, and from the location to the weapons feels like an indirect copycat, minus the fanciful touches.

What chaos ensues captures the attention because, while the script plays this straight, the action never suggests any strict rules. Anything goes, and the closer Mercenaries from Hong Kong gets to its conclusion, the zanier it allows itself to be.

Plus, the plot isn’t lost, inserting a few twists to keep the character side alive, while upping the inhumane cruelty that includes a cancer-stricken kid shot in the back. It’s so morbid and ridiculous as to be darkly comic, a send-up of those post-Vietnam or cop genre flicks with the nearly retired buddy on his last day before retirement, gunned down on the job. Hong Kong goes a bit further though.


Sharing disc space with The Boxer’s Omen, Mercenaries from Hong Kong utilized a hard, gritty film stock. This means thick grain in darker corners of the frame, and plentiful grit elsewhere. Luckily, even with the double feature, the disc doesn’t show signs of losing fidelity due to compression. It’s a sublime encode for a difficult source.

Mercenaries from Hong Kong isn’t the most textured offering in the Shaw Brother library. Cinematography favors hazier and softer imagery, reducing sharpness at the source. Still, this carries a notable HD look, pure and refined. The print itself remains free from imperfections overall, never soured by scratches or dirt.

Satisfying contrast helps alleviate doubts over the lighter black levels. Luckily, shadows stay deep enough to avoid revealing noise or other artifact within them. Also pleasing, the color saturation serves as a highlight, enhancing every primary close to a bleed, but restrained enough to avoid any issues.


Cantonese, Mandarin, and English mono all come in DTS-HD form. Sticking with the default Mandarin, Mercenaries from Hong Kong lacks the aural spectacle of western action movies from this era, but the stock gunshots and explosions fare well enough, considering. Overall clarity is low, bland, and a few times strained, but the rocking score does ignite the subwoofer in places.


From 2010, Arrow includes an interview with martial artist/actor Tong Kai that runs close to 30-minutes. Then, trailers and stills.

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.

Mercenaries from Hong Kong
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A colorful mimic of western action cinema, Mercenaries from Hong Kong adds its own Shaw Brothers flair.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 38 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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