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|Index||15 reviews in total|
After seeing this, I realized Tsui Hark really has a knack for period films.
Jet Li is Master Wong in this third part of OUATIC series. Honestly, I
really enjoyed the scenes with Wong and Aunt Yee (played by always lovely
Rosamund Kwan). The way they play off each other is so innocent that you
can't help have a smile on your face. It's also a chance to see a jealous
Jet Li which adds to the humor. You really root for him to get the girl
The action is on point as Jet Li displays his martial arts prowess as he battles a lot of enemies. Great use of a jacket to ward off a street battle and the restaurant fight scene is classic Jet Li (you gotta love that shadowless kick). The Lion dance ceremony was interesting and I enjoyed how chaotic it was as all the dragons battled to get the bait. Foon adds comic relief and Club Foot was a cool character who knows how to get his "kicks".
Overall, I had to see this one after watching part one and two. Even though I expected to see superb fighting, I really enjoyed the romance in the film as well.
Though nowhere near as good as its predecessors, episode three of the legendary series does have some memorable moments, though they may appear few and far between. On this occasion, Empress Dowager tries to cause hostility between foreign powers settling in China by holding the ultimate Lion Dance competition set to restore Chinese pride and heritage, only to have it quashed by martial madman Chiu Tin Bai who's intent is to annihilate the competition and win the Lion Dance himself. Wong Fei-hung steps in after his father is beaten down by Chiu's crazy henchman Clubfoot, and the stage is set for Wong's single-handed onslaught of all evildoers and the restoration of some kind of sanity in this crazy town. There's plenty of colourful lion dances to please the eye and Jet is still the most exciting thing around, yet what it really lacks in is purpose, setting no real moral high ground and merely acting as a relentless cash-in on its previous successes.
An extremely enjoyable and fun film. Xin Xin Xiong, Jet Lee and the other
actors perform incredible martial arts stunts, including the obligatory
fighting scenes with Lee looking startled at his weapon's rapid
Overall, a reasonably good plot and a very interesting and fun film to watch.
As far as the fighting is concerned, I thought that this one was a little
unimpressive. It's pretty slow, overall. I'd really only recommend it to
big fans of the first two. There are some good bits of humor and we see
some actual romance between Wong Fei-Hung and Aunt 13, but I don't think
that that sort of thing is the main reason we watch this sort of movie. And
even if it were, there's just too little of it.
I really think that Jet Li's talents are wasted when you try to use goofy camera angles to make it look like he's doing superhuman feats. The man is practically superhuman already. I think you're better off showing off the amazing things that he can do rather than focusing on trying to make him look like a cartoon. I'm sure that his work in the movie was very demanding, but it just didn't come off as too impressive on the screen in my opinion.
And way too much lion dancing.
In order to unite the people of China and strengthen their spirit, the Qing
government decides to hold a lion dance competition to promote the study of
kung fu. This only leads to violence and conflict. Wong Fei Hung, who is
visiting Beijing, sees this and is disgusted by the way it's being handled.
However, his efforts to get through to the government are futile. He finds
himself having to join the competition when he discovers a plot by the
Russians to assassinate President Li Hung Chang.
This was the first movie in the OUATIC series that I saw. I was actually quite disappointed when I first saw it. I thought the fighting lacked intensity and the end seemed anti-climatic. It's not that the choreography is bad. Jet looks fit and is in great fighting shape for the film. However, there are no good one-on-one battles for him. His duel with Xiong Xin Xin in the street is short and disappointing, as is the finale against the head of the oil factory. The lion dance scenes are cool.
The story on the other hand, is really good. It has just the right amount of romance, humor, and historical background to sustain itself between the fight scenes. This would be the last of the truly historically relevant entries of the series, as the following films were either over-the-top or would not even focus on historical matters.
Overall, this is good watching. This is not one of Jet's greatest performances fighting-wise. The story makes up for it. Oh, and let me add that Rosamund Kwan is cuter than ever in this movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I know that there have been a lot of reviews deploring the relatively
lower standards of fight choreography, plot, etc. of this third
installment. Yet of the 4, this was the movie that left the deepest
impression on this humble reviewer - I remember being moved to tears
after watching this as 12 year-old. I do understand, though, why other
reviewers might have panned this one - it's much easier to understand
tsui hark's intentions from the perspective of someone brought up in a
more... "Chinese" environment, so to speak.
The theme song of the series (the one with the drums and Chinese-trumpets and people chanting "ahhhh... ahhhhhaahhhahhaahhahhh..." - yes, don't you know it) is about a man who wants to become a hero and win glory and honour - he calls others to join him in his quest, and sings of a fire burning in him that is "brighter than the sun" - an example of the sort of nationalistic, patriotic tradition that is very much ingrained into mainland-chinese culture (how much of it is part of a communist government's propaganda-package is anyone's guess). The character of Huang Fei-Hung is the embodiment of all the values inherent in The Patriot: a man unafraid of standing up to oppressive powers (foreign or otherwise) and fighting for the masses. This theme is emphasized throughout the series, and never so well-depicted as in Part III. ***Spoiler*** This episode ultimately ends tragically, as Wong realises that in fighting to "save face" and win honour for his people, he has in reality failed them. As such, the film (in a somewhat didactic approach) deviates from the stereotypical kung-fu-hero-kills-all-the-baddies-and-saves-the-day ending in an attempt to teach its audience just what it really means to fight for your country - that it isn't just scrabbling for some abstract, pedantic bragging rights, but to be prepared to make sacrifices to bring about change that is real and good.
For those who just want to watch some chop-socking action, catch the first film. But if you're looking for some insight into the source of Chinese nationalistic fervour, and what drives a man to put everything at stake for family and country, this really is one of the essentials.
In order to demonstrate a show of strength to the foreigners, the Empress
decrees a Lion King competition between the various martial arts schools.
Wong Fei-hung returns home at this time to visit his father's school to find
that the Tai-Ping school have set out to destroy the other schools before
the competition itself. Fei-hung tries to bring peace between the schools
but fails to stop the contest. Meanwhile Cousin suspects something more
sinister going on around the contest.
I feel like I'm under pressure here to say this isn't as good as the previous two films, simply because that seems to be the consensus of opinion on among reviewers here and also conventional wisdom says that a series will lose quality as it goes along. I settled to watch this expecting to be a drop from parts I & II (both of which I enjoyed), however I must say I found it to be every bit as enjoyable as part II (which I considered a more enjoyable film than part I). I do, however, recognise that it has weaknesses over the other two films.
First off, the plot is significantly weaker and even needs a last minute conspiratorial shot in the arm to help up the drama and give the characters something extra to do. That said I still felt the film moved along well and wasn't too bothered by the lack of a real strong structure. The fights are free flowing and enjoyable (even if they have weak reasons for occurring sometimes). There is no one fight that really competes with the climax of part I but that doesn't mean they're bad. Certainly fans of Matrix and Crouching Tiger (who think this stuff is all a new invention!) will be impressed as indeed was I. The Lion King contest has been criticised for hiding the skills of the actors but I think it made for a different show of skill that did involve their martial arts skills and showed them in a big way. There are some scenes that are too clearly wire-work (although it is all wire work) but the majority of it flows very well.
The main reason this film worked well for me was the way that it kept the humour from part II. The gentle comic touches all through are laugh-out-loud funny and really binds the whole film together. I've always felt that part II's humour made it better than part I, and part III continues that well. The romance between Fei-hung and cousin is also played well for both laughs and romance.
The main reason the comedy works so well is the cast who all show a real skill for it. Mok's Yoon is the main reason for this and his little touches are great fun to watch. Jet Li also shows a real ability in comic acting that Hollywood has spectacularly failed to utilise (thus far). His interaction with the excellent Kwan brings a real spark to the film in the quieter scenes. His real skill of course is the martial arts and he is a real presence in every action scene. The addition of Iron Foot (Xiong) works well and he is a good character who is developed past the bad guy character he is first presented as.
Overall I can understand why many would feel that this is a lesser film but I must say that I find it hard to put a wedge between any of the first three in the series (I have only seen these thus far). However, I enjoyed the action and felt that the comic touches worked very well and made this a very enjoyable film that was very easy to watch. The plot may be weaker than the previous films but it has other strengths that are used well. I can't comment on the rest of the series but this film made parts I-III a very strong and enjoyable series of films.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The third film in the Jet Li series is very much a minor movie in
comparison to the first two, with a plot that simply rehashes the old
East-meets-West theme, throws in some very average comedy, some nice
romantic touches between the two leads, and some enjoyable action
sequences. One thing missing from the previous adventures is Yuen
Woo-ping, who went elsewhere, leaving the action choreography to
somebody else. The resulting fight sequences are just as lavish as
before, but more obviously involve wire work; this time, Li is a
superhero who can jump ten feet in the air and there's a villain called
Iron Foot who can fly with his feet.
The story is pretty unchallenging, involving an evil factory owner and a Russian agent with a dark secret. Props feature strongly, this time a camera and those Chinese dragons, which take centre stage at the film's climatic Lion King contest. This climax is a bit of a disappointment, as Li and his opponents are hidden inside massive dragon costumes for the most part, and it lacks the dramatic power of a one-on-one battle like the previous movies offered. However, Tsui Hark does offer something a bit more original and what it lacks in dynamism, it makes up for in sheer visual spectacle.
Rosamund Kwan is probably the best thing in this film, having some very sweet moments with Li, who is good but appears to be going through the motions; it's no wonder he left the series, as he's had no character progression for two movies now. One actor who is very good indeed is newcomer to the series Xi Xi Xiong (DOUBLE TEAM) as villain Iron Foot, who has some fantastic wire-aided action moments and is easily the most memorable thing in the film. There are some 'fun' martial arts bits that make use of some imaginative scenarios. One has Li on an oil-slicked floor dodging missiles, whilst another sees him battling swordsmen using only his coat. There's a bit of blood and guts (including a pretty shocking mangled leg shot) and the classic Wong Fei-hung theme music is back infrequently. Although this film offers absolutely nothing new to the series or the genre as a whole, Hark's lavish choreography and production values make it a very agreeable viewing experience.
While the third movie in the "Once Upon a Time in China" series were
better than part one, but wasn't up to part two story-wise, then this
third installment did manage to hold its own. While it was very weak in
storyline, it more than made up for the shortcoming in action and
Chinese lion sequences.
It seemed like the storyline was rushed through and that most of the movie had a script that was just made up as director Tsui Hark went along with shooting the film. But luckily the impressive action and martial arts were more than making up for it. It should also be said that there is a lot of scenes and fighting sequences with Chinese lions. So take that into consideration if you might have a problem with that.
Jet Li delivers quite well once again, despite not having much of a solid and proper script to work with. So "Once Upon a Time in China 3" (aka "Wong Fei Hung III: Si wong jaang ba") seems mostly like a showcase for Jet Li's martial arts skills.
This is not one of the brightest moments in Hong Kong cinema, nor in Tsui Hark's directing career.
"Once Upon a Time in China 3" is a movie mostly appealing only to fans of Jet Li.
...but still entertaining for the most part. This third move in the
series is the weakest and least ambitious of the group, seeming
satisfied to ignore the actual politics of China's tumultuous 19th
century in favor of some made-up nonsense about Russian spies.
There is a martial arts tournament at the movie's center which Wong Fei Hung (Jet Li again) enters and must win for some reason, plus the always welcome Rosamund Kwan is back as Aunt Yee and the movie contrives to put her into danger again and again to keep things lively. The resulting mish- mash of a plot is rather hard to keep straight and honestly there is little profit in doing so. The producers themselves seemed to have a poor awareness of where everything was ultimately leading.
Enjoy the good period look and the quite impressive martial arts on display in the tournament and try not to take anything too seriously.
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