Once Upon a Time in China III (1993)
Reviewed by: Arshadnm6 on 2005-04-14
Summary: Dragon Heads and Egg Heads all in one grand Movie, what more could you want!!!
Wong Fei-Hong (Jet Li from ‘High Risk’ and ‘Fist of Legend’) must prevent a plot to murder the Empress Dowager's eunuch Li Hung Cheung. The culprits are a group of Russian foreigners, led by a close past friend and love-interest of Aunt Yee (Rosamund Kwan from ‘Mighty Baby’ and ‘The Scripture with no Words’) that plan to kill Li Hung Cheung during a massive regional lion-dance contest featuring various martial arts schools. In pursuit of justice, Wong Fei-Hong unwillingly decides to enter the contest himself. However, problems spark-off between the various martial arts schools looking to impose their domination over each other through winning the competition in several violent city-wide rehearsals leading up to their actual meeting. In this martial artist’s gangland mayhem, Wong Fei-Hong must make peace among the various martial arts schools, the largest of which has a mean kicking machine, Club Foot (Xiong Xin-Xin from ‘Double Team’ and ‘The Blade’) as its primary enforcer. Also, he must ward off the increasingly intimate advances of Aunt Yee (Rosamund Kwan from ‘Project A part II’ and ‘Mighty Baby’) as well as her Russian admirer from courting her and avoid the watchful eye of his father, Wong Kei-Ying (Lau Shun from ‘Once Upon a Time in China IV and V’) whilst building up the courage to publicly announce his love affair and intentions of marriage with her. Again, he struggles to change the ways of the rebellious and trouble-bound Leung Fu (Max Mok Siu-Chung from ‘Fire Dragon’ and ‘Star Runner’).

This movie has so much going at once that the chaotic sense of movie is strongly felt by the viewer. Moreover, the action is wonderfully choreographed by action maestro Yuen Tak. The directorship of Tsui Hark is apparent and features a very tightly-knit storyline with several important subplots and one or two nice twists. The success of this movie as regards to the predecessors includes the inclusion of necessary characters and storyline only. Lau Shun does well as Wong Fei Hong’s father and makes the camera feel at ease when he is around (since his sense of personal pride and tradition is evident and clearly portrayed by his son, Wong Fei-Hong). The action is also well spread out and this movie really looks like it was a huge budget feature. All of the actors are given plenty of time to display their characters and advance themselves amongst all of the ensuing chaos.

Nevertheless, the presence of dragon heads in almost every martial arts encounter makes the fight scenes a little too unrealistic whilst trying to capture the brutality of this tradition (much like the use of acupuncture in the second part of the series to dwell on about that particular area of Chinese historic tradition). However, the town is fantastically designed and shown similar to the second part as a vision of thriving beauty with a more vibrant feel to the environment rather than the claustrophobic environments created earlier. Although the king’s palace did seem a little too plain and simple since more artistry was definitely needed to raise the bar on the sense of grandness and royal appeal.

Overall, this movie includes the highest number and most variety of dragon heads ever witnessed in any movie to-date. In my view, this is not a failing but for other viewers it may become slightly tedious and unbearable after a while. This is a worthy edition to the ‘Once Upon a Time in China’ series and deserves praise for its various achievements and thrilling entertainment in a reasonable length of time.

Overall Rating: 8.1/10