Notable Cast: Zhang Hanyu, Eddie Peng, Carl Ng, Ken Lo, Pawarith Monkolpisit, Jonathan Wu
Many of the early trailers for Operation Mekong made the film look something like a military action thriller, powered by a dramatic ‘based on true events’ plot, and packed with big name stars throwing their best performances to earn awards. In many ways, yes, this is the film you are going to see with Operation Mekong. It’s certainly all of those things to an extent. However, that’s not all it is either. There was a certain expectation that went with the tone of the trailers that seemed to mix Platoon with a more modern day Lone Survivor spin and Operation Mekong is a bit more than that…and a bit less. Dante Lam’s latest action extravaganza is more John Woo and less Oliver Stone in its approach to the story, blending in high octane block buster action sequences with military dramatic touches. So it is less, in the idea of an impactful and emotional punch categories, but it is certainly more in the insane cheesy action categories. Operation Mekong ultimately comes off as a slightly mixed effort in its writing and characters, but it makes up for a lot of its larger flaws by being skull shattering action packed and tense. When it’s boiled down, this is really the film I should have expected and I still enjoyed the hell out of it, even if it doesn’t quite match the dramatic heights that Dante Lam has reached in previous films.
After a shipping vessel filled with Chinese workers is found with it’s crew slaughtered on the Mekong River for the drugs stashed on board, an international storm ignites where various countries decide to team up and fight the drug trade that has plagued the area. A special team is formed to go undercover and find one of the major drug lords of the area and topple his regime, but will the vicious drug lords of the region find out who they are and take them out before they have a chance to move?
|It's a call of duty. Just not that one.|
The military thriller core is just the main foundation of what Operation Mekong has to offer though. The other portion is the throwback Hong Kong actioner that the film slides into during its many, many action set pieces. This, of course, can be occasionally at odds with its more realistic military tones, but for this reviewer it adds a much more entertaining and exciting spin to events that keeps things moving at a very brisk pace. As I mentioned in the intro, the high octane big budget action gives the film a John Woo tone (always a win in my book) and it pushes its own boundaries by adding in the darker tones that the rest of the film uses. Massive mall shoot outs with undercover agents, a siege on a gambling den that plays out like a heist sequence, and the military assault finale all belong in action block buster territory. Dante Lam as a director knows how to make modern action sequences a spectacle without being messy or too visually chaotic and it works in the film’s favor here. Sometimes it’s a bit cheesy (there is a car chase sequence with a rocket launcher, just saying), but it’s also so effective and big that it made my face hurt from smiling so much. This is expertly executed action glory to balance out the realistic thriller tones of the rest of the film.
|Eddie Peng's mustache gets a pass.|
Written By Matt Reifschneider