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英雄本色III夕陽之歌 (1989)
A Better Tomorrow III

Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 02/22/2007

When their partnership dissipated in 1989, Tsui Hark ran with John Woo's idea for "A Better Tomorrow" prequel set in war torn South Vietnam. Chow Yun-fat reprises his role from the first film and transforms into the Mark Gor character audiences originally fell in love with...under the tutelage of Anita Mui? Hong Kong audiences didn't buy it; nevertheless, some Western film critics including Pauline Kael found merit in the film. Chow subsequently passed on future offers from Tsui.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/18/2003

A prequel to the first two films; Chow returns as Mark Gor, who travels to war-torn Vietnam to bring his uncle and cousin (Leung) back to Hong Kong. While there, he runs afoul of a corrupt local general, and the beautiful gunrunner Kitty (Mui) comes to his aid -- and apparently teaches Mark that wearing sunglasses and a trenchcoat is cool. After saving his family, Mark must return to Vietnam to save Kitty, which (of course) leads to an all-out blood-spattered finale.

Tsui Hark (producer of the first two ABT films) and John Woo (director) has a falling out during the filming of ABT2. Woo took his idea for a prequel and made the excellent Bullet in the Head; Hark took the idea and made this slightly above-average movie. While the idea may look good on paper (hey, let's have Chow Yun-Fat come back in his most popular role and have him get cozy with one of the sexiest women in HK cinema), in excecution it really falls flat. Instead of relying on his own directorial style, Tsui instead decided to mimic Woo's, which results in one big mess of a film. Simply put, the romantic and the action elements just don't mesh, and even fans of the first two movies may get put off by the high level of melodrama in ABT3. That being said, the movie does have some high points; Mui does look good shooting off M-16s in the beginning shootout and the ending sequence is quite well done. It's just that there's so much fluff in the middle.

I think I (and other fans) would have enjoyed ABT3 a lot more if it explored the formative relationship between Mark and Ho, growing up together in the Triad, or even Mark and Ken, exploring how Ken became disenchanted with being a gangster. As such ABT3 comes off as somebody just trying to cash in on the popular character of Mark Gor -- which other people have done, but I expected more from Tsui Hark.

Reviewed by: mehaul
Date: 01/14/2003

Two great actors and a great director make a prequel to two classic movies ABT I, ABT II. That's the good news. The bad news is having to endure this mess. 4/10

Reviewed by: balstino
Date: 07/23/2002
Summary: Don't expect much.

It's just not a very good prequel. The action is pap in comparison (no Woo) and the style of the film is totally different. You may went to see for yourself, but believe me, the A Better Tomorrow series would have been more special if left as 2 parts.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/12/2002
Summary: Why ruin it all?

Tsui Hark should not have attempted to go at this one alone. John Woo had dropped out by this point, and was wise too, as this 3rd and final in the series came to a terrible finish.

I always had hoped there would be a third installment, but was not thinking they would bring the film back in time (a prequel). This is set in the early years of Mark (Chow Yun Fat) during the war. He is the only character from the previous two films to be here again, everyone else is missing - a mistake in itself. Instead we have terrible acting by Tony Leung (Ka Fei) who made me want to slap him all through the movie, and a very unconvincing role by Anita Mui, who again didn't do much of a good job.

The movie in all honesty is okay if it were not part of the series, but as the final part of such a good series has come to an abrupt end. I must say, as the movie got to the last 30 minutes or so, I was beginning to enjoy it a bit, and the ending is quite good, but the rest of it seemed to drag.

If you haven't seen this, I can only advise you that you should rent it, not buy it. But if I were given the choice again, I would have just watched the first two, and then would be able to praise the series more (thinking there were just 2 films). A bit of risk then watching this one, your appriciation for the original 2 films will be dropped. This was always purely a money grab, to squeeze every last penny they could get out of the series, but just ruined it.

I can neither recommend watching or leaving this one, because I truly think it spoils the first 2 films.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/08/2001
Summary: Ummm

Probably the worst of the series but this time with Tony Leung in it! Don't expect too much from this movie!!


Reviewed by: grimes
Date: 04/08/2000

I've seen this film twice now and I've found that it really grew on me the second time.
The first time I saw it, I was still dealing with my feelings of betrayal over the horrid A
Better Tomorrow II, which was a huge dissapointment considering the quality of the
the original film, which is a Hong Kong classic. The second time I saw it I was able to
place it in perspective as its own film, possessing its own good qualities.

While this film lacks the visual flash of John Woo's trademark firefights, it makes up
for this in several ways. First of all, unlike a John Woo film, this film does an
excellent job of portraying a male-female relationship, in this case Chow Yun-Fat and
Anita Mui. At the beginning of the film, Mark is just a punk young guy who blithely
goes to Saigon during the war looking to help his cousin and uncle return to Hong
Kong. He seems blissfully unaware of the dangers of the approaching war and chaotic
state of the country, though he has to learn quickly. Mui plays a gangster whose
boyfriend has been missing for three year, on the run from his enemies. She is more
experienced in underworld dealings than Mark and she befriends him and they of
course fall in love. Their relationship is complicated by the fact that Leung Ka-Fai is
also interested in her. Mark, being the noble man that he is, attempts to place the
two of them together and doesn't seem to understand that Mui is only interested in
him. Despite the fact that this could be the plot for a bad soap opera, it is handled
well with a minimum of melodrama, and the three leads' talents make sure that this
subplot works.

Another aspect of the film that merits notice is its depiction of war time Vietnam. This
is the same territory John Woo would cover a year later in Bullet in the Head. A
Better Tomorrow III manages to integrate the war into its basic 'love and violence' plot
quite well. It is particularly powerful to see the relationship between Pat, a young
Vietnamese man who has been separated by his family, and Mark's uncle, who has
more or less adopted him. In fact, one of the scenes between them is one of the film's
most powerful moments, driving home just how devastating war is on a personal level.

I think that the key to really enjoying this film is to not get too caught up in the fact
that this is related to the mythical A Better Tomorrow. It basically stands on its own,
though there are a few rewards for having seen the first when watching this one. It is
particularly interesting to see Mark's character as he was before he became the
uber-cool gangster so familiar from the beginning of the first film. In A Better
Tomorrow III, we see him begin to develop these traits and learn what has shaped his
character. As an added bonus, we find out where his trademark sunglasses and
trenchcoat originated from.

Clear from your mind any preconceptions you have about what a prequel to A Better
Tomorrow should be and then go watch this film. Watch for its own good qualities but
don't expect a remake of part I (and thankfully its not a remake of part II).

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/21/1999

The worst of the Better Tomorrow trilogy.... probably because it wasn't directed by John Woo... good performance by Chow Yun Fat.


[Reviewed by Andrej Blazeka]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

At the end of the Vietnam war, Cheung goes to Saigon, intenton bringing his uncle and cousin back to Hong Kong. While in Saigon, Cheung meets beautiful gangleader Chow, and relies on her help for their safe return. A love triangle develops between the cousins and Chow. Further complicating matters, Chow's lover Ho, a gang leader, appears. Ho deports the cousins, and kills their uncle. Cheung and his cousin return to Vietnam seeking revenge, while Chow and Ho also become entangled with a local Vietnamese warlord. Chow tries to stop the battle, but the warlord kills Chow and Ho. Just before her death, Chow gives the cousins the last two air tickets with which to leave Vietnam and ensure their safe return.

[Reviewed by Rim Films Catalog]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

The prequel to _A Better Tomorrow_. The emphasis is more on romance, this time Chow and Tony Leung Ka Fai are cousins living in war-torn Saigon. They both love the same woman, a female gangster, played by Anita Mui, who turns out to be the person from whom Mark learned all his best moves. A nice idea, although the execution is cold-blooded.

[Reviewed by Anonymous]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

This sequel is actually a prequel, which takes place in Hong Kong and Vietnam ca. 1974. A young Mark Gor encounters a cool gangster girl (Mui) who learns him how to handle a gun! Sentimentality and slow-motion shoot-out abounds; a good and stylish tearjerker. Much better than ABT II.

[Reviewed by Anonymous]