A Better Tomorrow III: Love and Death in Saigon (1989) Poster

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The best of the series...
ecwaenigma2 May 2000
ABTIII is easily the best of the entire series. While loyal John Woo fans (like myself) may feel offended that a sequel was done without his involvement, this film stands alone as a true masterpiece of Tsui Hark's. Anita Mui is fantastic and lends real credibility and sensitivity to this film as the woman who teaches Yun Fat's "Mark" how to both "be cool" and use 2 guns at once. This film also doubles as a sensitive portrayal of the Vietnam conflict from "the other side", a view most Americans are unfamiliar with. A superb, compelling film with excellent performances, ABTIII is a real treasure for those willing to give it a look.
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10/10
A Better Tomorrow: The prequel. An underrated masterpiece.
Captain_Couth24 June 2004
A Better Tomorrow III:Love and death in Saigon (1989) is an underrated masterpiece. The film takes place during the final days of the Vietnam War. Mark Go (Yun-Fat Chow) and his friend (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) are in South Vietnam on a business trip and also to meet Leung's father. The two have a rough time getting into the country until they meet a mysterious gangster's moll (Anita Mui). Awhile later, the three form an unusual friendship. Mark Go learns a lot from Ms. Mui as she teaches him how to survive in a brutal environment.

A great film from the ever reliable Tsui Hark. What I like about his films is that he always has strong female characters. Anita Mui is simply wonderful in this movie. She also shows her vulnerable side (she's not always hard as steel). Mark grows up quick in war torn Saigon. Tony Leung Ka-Fai is good as well (serious for a change instead of playing his usual goofy gigolo persona). The action scenes are staged very well (they don't dominate the film). And what's a film starring Anita Mui without those skinny jokes (yes, a movie with Anita is not complete without a couple of skinny jokes at her expense. The movie was knocked in many ways because it's so different than the first two. I say,"So what!" The film is an essential action film from the master Tsui Hark.

Highly recommended.

Anita Mui also performs the songs in the film. Especially the haunting theme song heard in the middle and during the end credits of the film. A fitting song in so many ways.
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8/10
A different ABT
toyguy7 December 2004
A lot of people tend to think this movie is inferior to the first 2 ABT's. If you are one of these people, keep in mind that its pretty much due to the story. I think the direction and acting wasn't bad at all. Like many prequel/sequels, it suffers from hype and expectations. If its made exactly like the previous movies, then we have a rehash. If it goes in a different direction (like in this case) it runs the risk of alienating a lot of loyal fans.

Not sure how many of you knew the storyline prior to watching the film. I was at least privy to the plot summary before watching it in the theaters way back when. So I at least knew it took place in the 70s in Vietnam. Right there and then, I knew it would be very different from the first 2 films. War-torn Vietnam of the 70s would hardly be the kind of place where you find our heroes riding around in Rolls Royce's, making high stake deals in fancy hotels or mansions, wearing Fracescetti suits, etc. A lot of the "cool" element of the original is due to Chow of course, but settings and atmosphere had something to do with it as well. And Vietnam is not the kind of setting we're previously used to.

What the film does show, is probably a more realistic side of smuggling and counterfeitting. You make your deals at night in dark alley ways, your clothes are cars are are much less flashy (to avoid attracting attention to yourself). And of course, Mark hasn't acquired his cool persona yet, so we're missing that important element throughout most of the film.

In short, much of what we see is not entirely unexpected if you took the time to read the synopsis on the video box. Because the movie takes place at the time and place it did, I'd say the crew did an OK job.

As a prequel to ABT, I am a bit surprise at the choice of location if not the time. I remember a scene in the original ABT where Mark talks about the "old days" of making counterfeit deals with Ho in Indoesia!! That was suppose to be 12 years ago according to movie dialog, which would place us in the early 70s as well. So the movie would've been more continuous if we had Mark working for the H.K. crime organization already, and making drops in Indonesia (with or without Ho, depending on whether they can get Ti Lung back for the role). I also think it might have been more interesting this way. Anita can still play Mark's love interest, and much of the current ABT3 storyline can be incorporated; as long as Mark isn't so goofy and inexperienced.
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8/10
Prequel to John Woo's first two "Tomorrow" films
Bogey Man1 August 2002
Tsui Hark directed this sequel (1989) to John Woo's classic heroic bloodshed films Better Tomorrow 1 and 2 made couple of years earlier, and this third installment is more a prequel than sequel. It concentrates on what happened before the first two films and has more drama than action in it. Chow Yun Fat is again Mark Gor who is in Vietnam and meets there his cousin Mun (Leslie Cheung) who is just released from prison when Mark arrives in Vietnam. They meet mysterious female assassin Kit (the beautiful sweetheart Anita Mui) and both of the men are attracted by Kit. The film concentrates pretty much on the war infested Saigon and the hell that's free in there, so there isn't any particular plot in the film, but that doesn't mean it's not interesting.

I think there's couple of strong scenes of social criticism, mostly the horrific "customs scene" at the airport when Mark, Mun, Kit and Mun's father try to travel away from the country and are abused by the corrupted custom officers. Also the scene at the hospital is very harrowing and is there to underline righteously the state of the world of that time, and unfortunately there are even today places with same kind of circumstances in our world. Fortunately Tsui's attitude isn't this time as underlining as in his Once Upon a Time in China (1991), and Tomorrow 3 is therefore perhaps more noteworthy film as commenting society.

The visuals are also brilliant as can be expected from this director. There are great use of blue smoke again and the gun fights are incredibly beautifully shot and are more effective than any gun fight in some Western effort. The slow motion death scene of one important character in the film's finale is perhaps among the most beautiful "heroic death scenes" I've seen and it is finished very carefully and thus it has such a power. After that scene everyone should know what this name "heroic bloodshed" for this genre means and what makes it so unique. The end is very sad, too, but as we know how Mark ends up in his subsequent adventures, it gives some positivism for the sad ending of this third film. The ending is little irritating due to it's prolonged gun battles and fire power, and I think it should have stopped little earlier in order to be more effective finale for the otherwise pretty great film.

Better Tomorrow 3 is not as great and interesting as Woo's films, but still this is much more than average effort from Hollywood, and due to Tomorrow 3's great look and visuals, I give this gladly 8/10 rating and think this is among the greatest films Tsui Hark has directed himself. He has produced perhaps as many films as he has actually directed and many have said he is better producer than director, but this film shows that he really knows how to direct noteworthy films, too.
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8/10
Excellent
Cyber25670200023 April 2002
A Better Tomorrow 3 takes place during the Vietnam war and goes back to show how Mark became the professional killer that he is. Cool action scenes, but low on the gore from the other films. The story is very well done for an action movie adding a romantic aspect to it. Excellent.

***1/2 out of ****
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4/10
A sequel/prequel that should have never been made
jimniexperience25 March 2018
This isn't A Better Tomorrow. It's a love story. A cliched love story at that. The love story was just as confusing as their one-handed machine gun wielding spraying, missing all of their targets (yet somehow still landing) .. Action plot was a mess, whoever gave Hark Tsui a go on this movie instead of John Woo should be fined .

The main actress was gorgeous though , with that - 5/10
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On a different road but still going fast.
the_saint_10719 August 2002
Different to John Woo's original two films, but it's almost as good. Chow (coolest man in the world) yun fat, gives a very charismatic performance, hilarious in the opening scenes when he walks around the airport with an unlit cigarette hanging from his lip, and gives a raw, powerful, emotional performance at the end. The action scenes although lacking the finesse of the John Woo trademark mayhem, are still high velocity and powerful. Aided well by the soaring soundtrack, this film although it can be a little slow, is a welcome and worthy addition to the better tomorrow films. I just loved every second of it. Although the subtitles were a little tricky to read in places but you can't blame the film for what someone else did to it. The major problem is the badly done music editing after the credits have rolled. However seeing as the actual film had finished by that point, not many people would notice.
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10/10
This beautiful romantic action-drama classic is just another proof that Woo has NOTHING on Tsui Hark's genius !!
stendhalsyndrome5 March 2006
Sure, it's not a crowd pleaser and exactly as enjoyable on a superficial level like Woo/Hark's previous good installments... this film has something Woo never had, and that's a very good idealistic, detailed but at the same time a complex screenplay that is also opening the door for many various interpretations of the viewer as far as characters beliefs and motivations go; very long spontaneous but also intense dramatic moments led sometimes by the three characters at the very same time, brilliantly structured moody cinematography and "many" distinct characters differing one from another with their own issues interconnected throughout the story, and most of all the ability telling a story mainly only by the images and songs. Not to mention the fact that this film features much more flushy and opulent deeply profound story-line than anyone could have ever witnessed in any J.Woo film to this day! Although, one thing one could find lacking here that many fans of the first two films were affected by, which are the action sequences that this film has clearly no such interest in or simply not being as focused on as many Woo's films, though, such scenes appear here now and then if sporadically but when they show up they're coming with a sense of the unanticipation, shock and philosophical meaningness. As one biographer wrote: "In The Killer Woo shows two men firing guns, back to back, a sort of enclosed circle; Tsui Hark has the same shot in A Better Tomorrow III, except that it's Ho and Kit! Likewise, Tsui has no interest in copying Woo's "bullet ballet" style of directing action sequences; instead, Tsui emphasizes the characters and the situations. Woo directs action for the sake of the action; Tsui directs it for the sake of the story!"

Why people usually prefer the first one to this much dramatically superior film was already many times explained before and one of the things very often mentioned is the element of the commercialism and the appeal well-disposed to the western tastes that was ironically and effectively sold out. This film is totally different by its Chinese aesthetics that works in a more operatic, dreamy, poetic and sometimes fully surrealistic and artistic way J.Woo could only dream of to achieve. This time the meaning of the film is not about the traditional honor, loyalty or brotherhood we've already seen in a never ending line of similar maudlin homo-erotic movies; Here we are introduced to the very meditative themes about the complexities of love and equality, and above all Tsui Hark makes a much more ambitious effort as he brings these themes to a world swallowed by chaos. In the process of portraying the relationship between the main characters, he humbles the viewers with the realization of how insignificant each one of us can be in the face of change. Yet, he does not drag us into the abyss of desperation, as he offers hope and redemption for those who keep trying. Otherwise he brings plentiful other themes resonating with the modern time, among the politics, the fear of the 97 handover and the sprawling examination of gender roles, the film's background centers on the celebration of the Chinese nationality by the usage of the mutual heritage in favor of all or the Chinese notion of fate circling around all the main characters, basically involving Anita Mui's meditative Kit pondering over all her doomed life that's conversely gonna reflect the life of Fat's Mark Gor later in his gangster period (previous sequels -- mind you).

Each 24 or 20 frames per second are filled with an incredible ingenious sense for the timing and meaningful idea that both come along making a totally explosive impact on the mind of the viewer, either verbally or visually. The film employs a jaggy, documentary style to capture the chaos of its time; then later in more quiet moments of the film's time-frame it's creating a lovely montage of Mun, Mark and Kit shopping, using gradated filters for a dreamy, romantic feel that's bringing a sort of allegorical meaning that life continues even under the worst situations, and can also continue with joy.

There's another thing that makes this timeless masterpiece different from other installments: this is one of the very few films that can never be REMADE. Possibly the best and the most provocative T.Hark movie ever!

Let me say that now it doesn't quite surprise me that most of the critics were praising this film as the very best one in this classical series... they could never be more right this time.
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7/10
Different from the first two, but not a bad movie
GIB 0111 April 2000
Though people have been saying how much of a disappointment this prequel is, I watched it anyways, being a fan of the first two movies. And to be fair, it wasn't a bad experience at all.

I can see how people would be frustrated going in expecting more of the same and getting an action/drama movie instead, but I was told that it was less action and more romance beforehand. So I was prepared to take it for what it is worth. Which is an above average movie overall.

The Good: Chow Yun Fat returns to his character from the first film, which is great. Imagine the movie without him. Can you? Anita Mui plays her part very well and at times you really believe that she is upset or frustrated. The storyline is decent, and done pretty well. No, there are no scenes like the finale of A Better Tomorrow 2, but come on, did you really expect that kind of scene again? The ending of A Better Tomorrow 2 is so spectacular, can you blame the prequel for not trying to top it and go elsewhere instead? The chemistry between Chow Yun Fat's Mark and Anita Mui's Kit is great, especially with Kit. The viewer really feels for her. Great job.

The not so good: Many people accuse John Woo's films of totally ignoring women. But when it comes to A Better Tomorrow, many people criticize part three for placing a woman in the mix. It's supposed to be a story of brotherhood and friendship. In a way I agree. There should be more women representation is some of John Woo's work, but with this series, many fans prefer a team of friends, guys, more specifically Ho, Mark, and Kit from the first in the series. I would rather have had part three be a true sequel picking up where the second left off [with Ho and Mark's brother Ken (also played by Fat)] and tell about there struggles and how they are getting over the events of the last movie. Then you can put Anita Mui in the storyline somewhere and have her help them out in some way.

Overall, A Better Tomorrow 3 is pretty good. Not much like the first two, but an alternative that strays from the formula and may be accpted by some, and not by others.
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10/10
A TIMELESS CLASSIC... I wish i'd say that about ABT1/2 that sadly with the coming years only decreased in quality and really got far from the grandeur of this masterpiece
chambara81129 June 2006
I remember how once i purchased this film hoping for an action film along the lines of the first two entries in the series. What I got was an epic love story set during the waning days of Saigon. And I loved it! The emotions in this film are real and the response to the them are earned. As a fan of the John Woo films I hate to say it but the gunplay in this film interfered with the human interactions. Not just a mindless action sequences. As a Chow Yun Fat fan I was really impressed with the range he displays here. Instead of the brash cowboy he played in the first two films he shows depth, vulnerability and the best portrayal of this character. And what can you say about Anita Mui: beauty, brains, brawn, and charisma. A true cinematic masterpiece on par with the best Melville, Renoir or Shaffner could have offered there. But then again, who would have thought that exactly this film will be still so cherished after many years. It seems that only the fools reward the films for not being ahead of their time. Wait, what's that... ah i guess i hear as Tsui Hark is having the last laugh there. OK, he deserves that this time.

10/10
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5/10
Chow Yan Fat is great the rest is bad
chrichtonsworld30 January 2007
I ordered this movie on tape (dvd didn't exist then). I expected the same classic shootouts and drama like the first two "Better Tomorrow"'s. I knew it was a prequel. The back cover said that this movie was about "Mark" becoming the hit-man he was in "Better Tomorrow 1". Boy was I misinformed. It did show some background on Mark's History. And the reason he became a killer. (Love for a woman who gets killed.) But that's it. Nothing more. Nothing about his adventures he told us about in Better Tomorrow 1. To not use this concept is the reason why this movie fails. To be fair there were some nice things like some action scenes,but they were nothing special. These action scenes cannot be compared to John Woo's sequences. Some reviewers call this the best one of the series. That really is a mystery to me,because this movie isn't even in the same league as 1 and 2. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion,but for me this was definitely the worst one of the series!
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Lacks the magic from its older brothers
action-68 June 2000
A Better Tomorrow 3 is not a sequel to A Better Tomorrow 2, but a prequel to A Better Tomorrow 1. We get to know how Mark Gor(Yun-Fat`s legendary ultracool gangster from ABT1) became a gun-toting gangster in Vietnam in the 1970`s. The movie itself is okay, but a lot worse than its legendary older brothers. The action is directed by Tsui Hark, a very good actiondirector, but not a patch on John Woo. Also, the gunfights lacks the intensity, smoothness and violence that we have come to expect from the ABT-series. If you`re a fan of Hong-Kong-cinema, ABT3 is worth a go, but remember that the other two are a lot better. 5/10
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6/10
Post-shoots Against the Background of War or Early John Woo: Part Three
lyubitelfilmov26 August 2020
Action movie. Prehistory of the first two parts, which tells the story of the formation of Mark - the hero of Chou Yunfat. This time, the director was Cui Hark - the producer of the first two parts, but as a result of creative (or other, we will never know) disagreements, John Woo left this episode, remaining in this part as a nominal producer. There were some fears about the third part - and they were partially justified, and here's my brief opinion - postrelushki against the background of the war. Not without its drawbacks, which I will definitely tell you about, but for now, let me draw your attention to the obvious advantages of this action movie. So the pros: 1. The story told - let's not touch on expectations now, but go through the essence. The film tells about the adventures of the still green Mark (the hero of the first part) in Saigon (now this city is called Ho Chi Minh City) at the end of the Vietnam War. He comes to Saigon to meet his cousin, getting to know a charming girl on the way, not suspecting that she is far from being as simple as it seems at first glance. The brothers will have to play a little naughty in the city, sort out their feelings (yes, they brought in a classic love triangle) and smash the adversaries under the roar of the advancing Vietnamese People's Army. The story turned out to be far from as boring as I thought, but clearly inferior to the early parts, at least in terms of emotions. And then I don't even know who to blame, the script or the actors. The villain turned out to be interesting, and not a walking cliche, with his own background, motivation, what kind of feelings, but still, this added the point to the picture, which I had previously taken away for unjustified expectations. But if you remove all my claims, and if you forget about the early paintings as an independent work, then it looks good. But it doesn't work out that way, and the point is in the name. I can't do anything about it. 2. Atmosphere - The Cultural Revolution in China, the Civil War in Cambodia, the war in Vietnam, ready to end with the complete victory of the communists - the whole of Southeast Asia is on fire. The atmosphere of a certain doom, expectation, hope is literally eaten under the crust. Saigon, the last stronghold of the South Vietnamese puppet regime, backed by the United States, reigning tension everywhere that awakens aggression, monstrous corruption that corrodes the puppet regime. Here is a great merit of Cui Harka, who knows this period not by hearsay, so you believe in what is happening on the screen. For this I can only praise. 3. Shootouts - they are good, and again realistic, but this time there was clearly not enough blood for me to believe it one hundred percent. And against the background of the final shootout from the second part - it looks faded. But it brings pleasure, no matter what. So the cons: 1. My expectations - I was expecting a crime thriller with unrealistically steep shootings, where two brothers create their own criminal empire against the backdrop of the ending Vietnam War, but I got something different, with a focus on war drama. Hurricane shootouts did not wait, there is not so much crime in the film, only Chow saved the day. Which confirms my theory that John Woo was only a nominal producer here, and also Victoria Peak, which constantly appears in every John film. 2. Humor - you will be surprised, but I didn't like the jokes here at all. Not even a slight smile was elicited, let alone a real laugh. Again the problem is in the script. It would be better if there was no humor here at all, honestly. 3. Music - or rather one melody, which is very much like another from the cult series of paintings. What is it? Plagiarism or coincidence? Decide for yourself. A little about the main characters: 1. Mark performed by Chou Yunfat is a young and daring gangster from Hong Kong who came to Saigon on business. It is here that Mark will be baptized by fire and become the tough guy he appeared in the first picture. Chow pleased me again with his acting. Bravo! 2. Moon played by Tony Leung Kang Fai - Mark's cousin living in Saigon, who is trying to save his family and take her to Hong Kong, but he cannot do without difficulties. Behaves like a real brother who always has his back. Tony played this role perfectly! 3. Chow performed by Anita Mui - a mysterious acquaintance of Mark, who turns out to be a real fighter, able to mow down a whole company of soldiers with one left. A strong girl, perfectly wielding weapons, with a delicate and vulnerable soul, in whose life love happened. A strong heroine who remained a woman. Anita played excellently. I have no complaints about her. It is a pity that she is no longer with us. To summarize under the entire trilogy, then it is a worthy representative of the genre, although the first part is better than the rest, and clearly did not need a continuation. The experience of staging this episode was very important for John Woo. It was thanks to him that he made his masterpieces of the period of "Hong Kong creativity" - "Hired Assassin" and "Hard Boiled". As a result, we have a good backstory for the adventures of the hero Chou Yunfat with an excellent military atmosphere, a good story, good shootouts, the best villain in the series and great acting work.
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10/10
Underrated Classic That Is One Of Hark's Best!!
Movie-Misfit27 December 2019
Often frowned upon by hardcore fans of John Woo, A Better Tomorrow 3 is treated like the unwanted child of the infamous Hong Kong trilogy!

As it stands, and understanding how director Woo and producer Hark parted after part two due to creative differences (with Woo going to make A Bullet In The Head, and Hark, this one), you get a firm reason as to why this chapter stands apart from its predecessors. Producer and director Tsui Hark, who needs no introduction, may have taken things down a completely different road aiming for a prequel - but its a story that gives us an insight to how a younger Mark (Chow Yun Fat's character from part one) becomes the 2 gun-toting cool gangster that we all love...

While not as action heavy (although it's far from disappointing when we get it), Hark lays on the drama in the midst of the Vietnam war teaming Chow up with the always fun Tony Leung Ka Fai, and the fantastic Anita Mui - who pretty much steals the show as his mentor and gunfighter extraordinaire!

The story sets the pace with great performances from everyone involved - including some emotional moments as with the previous entries. Every scene is beautifully framed delivering some stunning visuals in its cinematography that won me over with one scene in particular - the first action scene of the film complete with double-gunned Anita Mui taking on a mini army complete with that wonderful Hong Kong night-lighting, tons of smoke, and plenty of gunfire. Beautiful!!

A Better Tomorrow 3: Love and Death in Saigon is criminally misunderstood! Any fan of Tsui Hark, Chow Yun Fat, Hong Kong film, or great cinema should really check it out - and if you have done already, then once again...

As with the rest of the series, there is the odd bit of humour, but nothing too wacky to distract from the maturity of the whole thing. The team soon arrive back in Hong Kong (before the half way point of the film) which then begins to lend itself to familiar territory. As romance and friendships blossom, you just know the crap is going to hit the fan before its 2 hour running time is up - which of course it does (back in Saigon), resulting in another fantastic, beautiful bullet-ballet with some top gun-play and action courtesy of Shaw Brothers star Lau Fong Sai and action director, Lau Chi Ho.

Overall: An underrated classic and fantastic end to the trilogy, that shines as one of Tsui Hark's best!
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5/10
So-so
preppy-328 January 2000
If you compare this to the first two, this is pretty bad. If you take it on it's own, it's OK. The plot is by the numbers, ditto for characterizations and dialogue. The shoot outs also totally lack the energy and brutality the first two had. And Chow-Yun Fat gives an uncharacteristically bad performance. Still the film isn't totally worthless. The shoot outs, like I said, aren't up to previous directors' Woos shoot outs. But then again what are? They're OK, they're definitely not dull. And the lead actress Mui is fantastic! Unlike the women in Woo's films, she isn't a victim, a sex object or just scenery. She's strong, dynamic, full of energy and better than the men at shooting people down! When she starts blazing away the energy level in the film leaps forward. So it's worth seeing for her, but don't expect any great movie.
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Worth a look for "A Better Tomorrow" fans.
donleavy7 July 1999
The 3rd in a series, which is actually a prequel. Mark Gor (Chow Yun Fat) goes to Saigon to fetch his cousin and uncle during the Vietnam war. Directed by Tsui Hark (who produced the first 2 movies) instead of John Woo. Not as great as the first, but worth a look.

True to the "Better Tomorrow" series, as well as the whole John-Woo-aesthetic, the movie's about male-bonding. But this movie also focuses on romance: Mark and his cousin Mun (Tony Leung Ka Fai) both fall for sexy gang leader Kit (Anita Mui).

It was great to see a woman as a gangster for once, and Anita Mui was cool as hell. She looks fabulous while mowing down a dozen men without smudging her makeup once - speaking of which, she overdid the lipstick. Her neon-orange-red lips practically glow and bleed into every scene she's in.

Of interest to fans: the movie shows Kit teaching Mark how to shoot a gun, and explains where Mark got his trademark coat and sunglasses.

Also notable is that this movie contains Chow Yun Fat's most authentic kiss with a woman. Usually, he just slams into the girl's face violently in a convulsive fit - which looks intense but not very real. In this movie, he's much more gentle. Probably because he didn't want to eat her lipstick.
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The magic is gone...
MiB-622 September 1998
"A Better Tomorrow III" is a desperate attempt to make some cash out of the legendary character Mark Gor, the three words before "III" in the title and the man they call Chow Yun Fat. It would have been somewhat more watchable if they changed this film to another chapter in the lives of Ho, Lung and Ken Gor but director Hark Tsui made the crucial mistake of making this a prequel: way back to the Vietnam war. Chow Yun Fat still makes another charismatic mark on the film but the action scenes are really terrible if you just watch this after something like Hard-Boiled. I would forgive it if it was Hollywood but, come on, this is Hong Kong! You should do better than this...

But non-fans of CYF and the BT series will be pleased with the character study of Mark Gor and the off-beat romance he has with Anita Mui. It's not a complete disappointment to mainstream viewers, but to loyal Hong Kong action fans: YES.
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5/10
Disappointing
Vartiainen14 February 2016
Chow Yun-Fat reprises his iconic role as Mark Lee, the epitome of cool gangster immortalized in the first A Better Tomorrow film, directed by John Woo. This time around we get a prequel, depicting Mark's early days in the midst of the Vietnam War as he tries to rescue his uncle and cousin from amidst the horrors of war, in the process meeting a woman and learning the skills he would later use to rise to the top echelons of the Triad.

It's a workable plot and definitely something anyone who has seen the original films would be interested in seeing. The problem is that they changed the director from John Woo to Tsui Hark, and unfortunately he doesn't have the skills of the master whose boots he's supposed to fill. John Woo still produced the film and you can see touches of his style in the film, but overall it feels like a cheap imitation. The action scenes lack the impact of the previous two films, the characters are not as deep or as well-defined, and the overall story lacks coherence and tension.

Now, that being said, it's by no means a bad film. It still has Chow Yun-Fat playing Mark Lee, which alone makes the film worth checking out if you liked the originals. And the new characters are not bad either, with Anita Mui's Kit being an excellent female protagonist, who teaches Mark everything he would later use in his life.

The film isn't as good as it could have been. The originals worked because Woo was able to insert them with such style that you could overlook the limitations of the story. Here those limitations are not as well covered and the whole film definitely creaks under its own weight. Still, it has Mark Lee in it, which makes it worth watching. Though only just.
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5/10
OK, but they should have stopped at 2.
oneguyrambling14 November 2010
Now this is a prequel to the first film, so rather than ABT 3 I might have suggested they call it A Better Yesterday, but I wasn't there at the time.

This time Woo is out and Tsui Hark is in the director's chair, (leading to the worst film in the trilogy). Is it any wonder that Woo and Hark were once peers and that only one went on to direct internationally while the other stayed in Hong Kong making films? (In Tsui Hark's defense Woo's only real strength is action sequences, his films are otherwise no better or worse. But this IS an action film.) At two hours long this drags mightily for quite a while, and the action is over the top without the Woo benefit of being dumbly entertaining. It is like Tsui Hark said I can't promise you'll enjoy it, so I'll make it bloodier and more far fetched.

A young Mark (Chow Yun Fat) goes to Vietnam in 1974 at the tail end of the Vietnam war to meet his cousin Mun as he released from prison for being involved in the black market.

Mun only turned to crime to assist his ailing father to leave Vietnam and return to Hong Kong, but he got caught up in the wrong crowd and ended up in jail. So they decide to re-enter the crime world to get quick cash so that they can have another crack at leaving the country, taking Uncle/Dad with them.

Now I ask you what could go wrong?

Mark was only able to get through Vietnamese Customs with the assistance of an unknown woman, and she turns out to be their first contact in the Vietnamese crime underworld named Miss Chow.

After their first job together goes wrong and a bloodbath ensues, Miss Chow turns into a female Rambo and blows dozens of bad guys away, and Mun and Mark acquit themselves well enough that the three of them get along like a house on fire and spend all their time together.

Now that they have the cash to leave Vietnam they sell up and head off, again nothing goes smoothly and it is only thanks to Miss Chow that they get through, with Uncle nearly dying in the process.

Back in Hong Kong a love triangle quickly forms, Mark and Mun both have the hots for Miss Chow, but she only has eyes for one of them, and it wouldn't be fair to say which here. Shortly after though the threesome becomes a foursome, with the return of Miss Chow's former boss and ex from an overseas stay.

The boss immediately attempts to sever all of Miss Chow's distractions by initially trying to kill them, and then ordering them to leave Hong Kong immediately.

Of course this is never going to wash, so we have a deranged finale with Mun, Mark and Miss Chow joining forces in a bloodbath that leaves dozens killed and involves tanks, machine guns, standoffs and switching allegiances. Basically everything that John Woo would have included, but in a manner so clumsy that for half the time I couldn't work out what was going on, and for the rest I didn't care.

Final Rating – 5.5 / 10. A disappointing end to what was hardly an awe-inspiring trilogy to begin with. They should have stopped at two.

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10/10
Would've been a bit better if John Woo had directed it
maxyg185 August 2006
In 1986, director John Woo and producer Tsui Hark teamed up to make a box office hit, 'A BETTER TOMORROW', which became a huge success. In 1987, John Woo directed a sequel called 'A BETTER TOMORROW II' and in 1989, producer Tsui Hark, directed the prequel to the popular smash hit series, 'A BETTER TOMORROW III'. But is it any good? Well, from the star rating I gave it, it means it's the best in the series although it's got almost nothing to do with the first two films and it obviously does try to copy the John Woo style of directing but that doesn't stop it from being a great movie.

Set after the Vietnam war, Cheung (Tony Leung Ka Fei) goes to Saigon so he could bring his uncle and his cousin, Mark (Chow Yun-Fat) back to Hong Kong. However, while Cheung is in Saigon, he meets a beautiful woman named Chow (Anita Mui), who is a dangerous gang leader, who could help Mark and his uncle return safely to Hong Kong.

The action scenes are really good, although they are no match to the Woo standard, what else is great about the film is its haunting but very beautiful theme song sung by Chinese pop star, Anita Mui. If you liked the first two movies, you might be able to enjoy this one, even though it has got almost nothing to do with the series.
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4/10
A badder tomorrow
kosmasp6 April 2007
Tsui Hark, who did us a favor in not directing part one of this series, is here to remind us, that it better that way. Since John Woo(ldn't) want to have any of this sequel/prequel or whatever you like to call it, they had to find somebody else. And although the idea is nice, it was completely unnecessary and uncalled for. Not every movie brand needs a trilogy ...

Although you have familiar actors here, the stories just don't seem to mix up, with what happened or will happen in the A better tomorrow movies. You will also notice a change of style here. Now I won't hold it against Hark that he tried something different here (it's the "damned if he does, doomed if he doesn't" situation), but it just doesn't work. Watch "Bullet in the Head" instead to see, how this could've looked like, if Woo directed it! :o)
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3/10
I love John Woo and his films but this was terrible...
djpure123 May 2020
I love John Woo and his films but this was terrible. He is trying something different here with more drama but it does not work. Dodgy acting and soundtrack do not help.
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10/10
The best of the ABT series: it's stood the test of time
npvarley19 May 2020
IMO, this is the best of the ABT series. Woo's instalments 1 & 2 haven't aged nearly as well as 3. Tsui Hark has given us a different type of movie, more character and story driven, yet with plenty of good action sequences too.

Chow Yun-fat, as always, is superb. Anita Mui is just magnificent in this movie, with her heroic sacrifice such a bittersweet ending. Tony Leung also does a great job.

The cinematography is superb, making great use of the Vietnamese settings. The soundtrack is brilliant, featuring Anita Mui's magnificent theme song. Her death, at the age of 40, due to cervical cancer, in 2003, was such a tragedy for HK cinema and music scenes.

You really should watch this movie!
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5/10
A Better Tomorrow III: Love And Death In Saigon (Tsui Hark, 1989) **
Bunuel197612 April 2006
I had watched the previous two entries in the series also featuring Chow Yun-Fat but it's been too long to really make comparisons, except to say that I recall enjoying them. Actually a prequel, set in Saigon at the time of the Vietnam War, this was made with no involvement from the director of the earlier films (John Woo). The action highlights, as can be expected, are quite good - even if displaying a tiresome over-reliance on slow motion effects. However, it's bogged down by a dreary romantic triangle plot line...

Even if I was disappointed by this third film in the series (there's yet another follow-up, from a new director, called RETURN TO A BETTER TOMORROW [1994] - which is available at my local DVD outlet...but I don't think I'll be renting it anytime soon), I still have another Tsui Hark epic waiting to be watched this week, SEVEN SWORDS (2005), which does sound promising...
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