Great Explosions Aren’t Always Enough: Our Review of ‘Operation Mekong’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - September 28, 2016
Great Explosions Aren’t Always Enough: Our Review of ‘Operation Mekong’

It’s always conflicting when you love a movie for what you know in your heart are all the wrong reasons.

While I can’t sit here with a straight face and say the writer/director Dante Lam’s Operation Mekong is a particularly good movie, it is an adrenaline soaked love letter to basically every action movie from the late 1970’s all the way until the mid 1990’s and is an unquestionable amount of fun.

Inspired by real events, Operation Mekong takes us to the banks of the Mekong River where two Chinese cargo ships were attacked, their cargo dumped or stolen and no one was left alive.  This story tracks the brave narcotics officers who are tasked to find out what happened along with the origin of the over 900K methamphetamine pills left behind.

While it isn’t exactly high on character development (honestly what Dante Lam movie ever is) it is a full throttle ode to bullets, blood and explosion that makes it feel like a Cannon Films era actioner but directed with the style and sense of a Michael Cimino or a young Michael Mann.


The story just moves too damn fast and is overwhelmed with crafting a stylish look and some fantastic action set pieces so it’s understandable that any genuine character development does get left by the wayside.  It manages to look glossy but still have a dirty sheen to it all throughout the story as it takes us from set piece to set piece.  To his credit; Lam is no stranger to action and while it makes for a fun ride you just can’t help but feel like you were missing out on something.  I actually cared more about the dog that worked with the narcotics officers rather than the officers themselves.  Thankfully Lam never really tries to make us care about the characters all too much and is more focused on putting us through this high-octane true to life ride thanks to some quality practical effects that were bone jarring and exactly what they needed to be while any sort of character arc and subplot even something simple like the shared brotherhood of law enforcement just doesn’t quite work.

This ensemble cast works fine together, I mean they are mostly just shooting at one another so I’d be lying if I said there was really any heavy dramatic work going on but it plays effectively enough.  No one is trying to stand out; it’s just about moving the narrative where it needs to go.operation-mekong-31

Ultimately, Operation Mekong works for anyone looking for a genuine shoot ‘em explosion movie that harkens back to 1980’s Hollywood and it makes for an entertaining watch but it doesn’t strain any elements of high drama that could have been in the story.


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David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.