Operation Mekong: A Foreign Intervention Action Epic Based on A True Incident
Based on a true 2011 incident. Operation Mekong is China’s first major foray into the US-dominated “foreign intervention action epic” genre.
In 2011, two Chinese cargo ships traveling a stretch of the Mekong River within the Golden Triangle were attacked and their 13 crew members brutally executed. It was the bloodiest killing of Chinese citizens abroad in recent memory. Amidst massive media attention and public anger, Chinese authorities blamed Naw Kham, a Burmese drug lord, for directing the massacre. Despite evidence that Thai soldiers may also have been involved and that Naw Kham had a more limited role. China’s Ministry of Public Security quickly worked with Laotian, Thai, and Burmese authorities to bring Naw Kham to justice. After an extensive manhunt. Laotian police captured Naw Kham and extradited him to China. In 2013, China executed Naw Kham by lethal injection. Footage of the execution was, in an rare move, broadcast on state television.
Now, the film Operation Mekong (Diep Vu Mekong)resurrects the media sensation that swirled around that 2011 Mekong Massacre. And its aftermath. Released 30 September. It became an instant hit in China and topped box office charts. The movie presents a fictionalized China’s manhunt for Naw Kham and his associates replete with gunfights, gadgetry, and gallantry.
Operation Mekong is apparently based on true events which makes the brutality on display all the more shocking; it’s the kind movie that you wouldn’t see made in Hollywood as it goes places your average actioner wouldn’t dare. One scene involving kids playing Russian Roulette will stick with me for months and it never shies away from displaying the violence of the drug trade.
The cast is pretty phenomenal including Eddie Peng,. Zhang Hanyu,. Ken Lo and Carl Ng. The lead hero is Gao Gang playing by the incredibly charismatic Zhang Hanyu who is one of the coolest people you’ll ever see on screen. He has genuine star power and is the perfect lead for this kind of movie. Tasked with taking down a psychotic drug dealer by the name of Naw Kham. He puts a team together. And they put their plan into action. As always things never go smoothly and the bodycount rises until the action-packed finale.
The story isn’t anything we haven’t seen in every other action movie (phim hanh dong 2020). But it’s still exciting and the hard violence will keep fans entertained.
It is let down by some terrible CGI at times and is quite distractingly bad; what’s so frustrating is (as with so many movies these days) a lot of it could have been done practically and if it had then the action could have been spectacular. The speedboat chase at the end was rather cool. But it wasn’t as memorable as the John Woo classic Face/Off.
Overall, Operation Mekong has some satisfying R rated moments with a fantastic cast. But it’s let down by some crappy special effects. There is still plenty to enjoy though and it’s worth a watch.