Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Better Tomorrow III

Its 1974, Mark (Chow) travels to Saigon to retrieve his cousin Mun (Leung) and uncle to bring them back to Hong Kong. While there, Mark meets a beautiful gang leader named Kit (Mui), first at the airport where she uses her influence to help him out of a tangle with Customs. Then later through one of Mun’s illegal dealings gone wrong. When the dust settles, Kit helps the two cousins and Mun’s sickly father escape back to Hong Kong.

During these events we see a love triangle start to unfold. Boy likes girl, girl likes other boy, other boy kinda likes girl but does not realize. The usual. However when they return to Hong Kong the love triangle becomes a complete square when Kits past lover enters the picture. A lover who happens to be a powerful Triad Boss (it’s a popular occupation).

Probably the biggest weakness for A Better Tomorrow III would be its name. Its not a bad movie per say, however it really feels like an unnecessary addition to the “A Better Tomorrow” series. Apparently there was a fall out between John Woo and Tsui Hark. Explaining why Woo was not involved in this film, and Tsui Hark took on the job as director. And he is not by any means a bad director, but simply said this should have been a John Woo film, produced and written by Tsui Hark. Without Woo they should have done one of two things; either keep the story but change Chow's character name, as well as the few little tidbits that suggest this has anything to do with A Better Tomorrow. Or, the second option would have been to. . .get John Woo back. But he didn’t come back, and we got what we got.

As I said earlier on in this review, A Better Tomorrow III is not a bad film. In fact I liked it. Aside from the fact it really had nothing to do with A Better Tomorrow, it still held its own. It had a fairly decent story, a good cast, and wonderful chemistry between Chow and Mui. There was some decent action scenes that did have some Woo-Esq moments, and lots of big explosions. However Chow Yun Fat didn’t have a whole lot to do action wise till quite a while in. In fact, this actually leads to one of the more interesting points of the film. When it starts, Mark is not the Mark we all know and love. He cannot fire a weapon at all. The marksman in this picture, who dual wields her pistols on a few occasions is Anita Mui. And she does it with a lot of conviction. Her character actually teaches Mark how to use a gun. Another one of those tidbits I mentioned that refers to the original film is when Anita Mui gives Mark a gift, what is that gift? A Long Black Coat. We also see him purchase a nice set of dark sunglasses. So by about two thirds of the way into the film, we see the old(but younger!)Mark.

So if you like the first two films, its worth giving this a shot. It does not have the same feel as the original did, and it could be at least as good as the second, if there was some Woo in there. The bottom line is this “A Better Tomorrow” without John Woo is like a Big Mac without the special sauce. It may look the same, but when you bite into it you definitely notice that something is missing.


A Film by Tsui Hark

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