省港旗兵第三集 (1989)
Long Arm of the Law III

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 05/22/2009
Summary: by-the-numbers

Long Arm of the Law Part 3 suffers mostly from by-the-numbers direction by Hong Kong "auteur" Michael Mak. Pretty good cast tries to make something from weak script which yeilds poor result.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: White Dragon
Date: 04/10/2006

Giving shelter to long-time village compadres who are wanted for robbery, Mainlander Cheung Kong (Andy Lau) finds himself unwittingly implicated in the crime and served a mandatory death sentence. Escaping by the skin of his teeth on his execution day, Kong hightails it for Hong Kong and a new life. In transition he meets and falls for Ah Mun (Elizabeth Lee), as well as befriends the affable Chicken Heart (Max Mok). Once in Hong Kong, Kong and Chicken Heart fall under the auspices of triad brethren Leung (Kirk Wong) and Cheuk (Stephen Chan), who capitialise on their naiveté to coerce them into a series of daring robberies. Things go from bad to worse for Kong when, as well as the triad stooges abducting girlfriend Mun to ensure his continued cooperation, Mainland security officer Mao Heung Yeung (Elvis Tsui) arrives in the colony with intent to apprehend the wayward fugitive and return him to the homeland so that his original sentence can be carried out.

Realistically, and in retrospect, Michael Mak was never really much of a virtuoso director; his brother Johnny proving the more talented sibling by way of his many production & writing pieces over the years inclusive of the sublime “Rich & Famous” and “Tragic Hero” films (directed by the underrated Taylor Wong). By the closure of the eighties, every second Hong Kong action film was triad/gangster themed and “Long Arm Of The Law Part III” is no exception; however, it is little more than that and remains a fairly non-descript and run-of-the-mill B-movie filler. Although it harbours some energetic, and violent, action sequences as a cohesive whole the film barely holds together; primary characters are underplayed (or underwritten), peripheral characters are overplayed (the villains are mere caricatures) and not once but twice the narrative grinds to a halt to inject a pair of gratuitous and unbelievably sleazy rape scenes (Mak seems intent to bludgeon the viewer over their heads as to the depths of depravity of his antagonists). Even the film’s score strives for ambience when it should be aiming for urgency, which only serves to diffuse whatever designs the filmmakers might have held towards heightening the narrative’s emotional resonance.

Largely a missed opportunity all around, albeit one hampered by the fact that the film rises to the challenge when it diverts infrequently into its fierce action setpieces. Definitely one of Lau’s lesser earlier entries (almost on a par with his “strategic guest star” role in Joe Cheung’s “Return Engagement”) and, to be quite forthrightly honest, a bit of a tiring drudge to sit through in its entirety. You could easily skip this episode of the “Long Arm Of The Law” series without any fear of missing or excluding the closing part of the trilogy, and in the safety of knowing there will be no blight at all on the previous chapters. One to see only if you feel compelled to explore all the many, and dirigible, facets of the triad sub-genre.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 03/08/2006
Summary: third film in johnny mak's trilogy. ..

now, i've not seen 'long arm of the law 2', but if the first and third films give any indication, it will be bleak, violent and tragic.

andy lau escapes execution in china, only to be black-mailed by triads into working for them; it's nowhere near as good a film as 'long arm of the law', but it's still pretty good. the main narrative is often over-shadowed by it's back-drop, but there's plenty of good action and atmosphere.

pretty good stuff...

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 12/01/2005

Long Arm of the Law III (which is a sequel to the previous films in name only) has Andy Lau as a Mainlander who is falsely accused of robbery and sentenced to death. He manages to escape the firing squad and is smuggled into Hong Kong, where he is employed by a Triad leader (Kirk Wong), who uses Andy's girlfriend (Elizabeth Lee) as bait to keep him on the hook. While being pursued by a hot-headed cop (Elvis Tsui), Andy tries to pull off a double-cross so he and Elizabeth can escape to Panama.

These types of Triad action/dramas came out by the boatload in Hong Kong during this time period, and there isn't too much to seperate Long Arm of the Law III from the pack. There is some solid stuntwork and bloody gunfights helmed by action director Tony Leung Siu-Hung, but things are hampered in this department by Poon Hung's editing, which comes off as a bit choppy. The acting is average at best, with only Elvis Tsui turning in a noteworthy performance (though it was fun seeing Kirk Wong, who is much better known as a director, playing a really nasty character). There are also some big plot holes in the script; in particular, the movie's resolution had me scratching my head. Not only are things left unexplained, the sappy ending seemed out of place, given the ultra-violent scenes which proceeded it. Despite these flaws, Long Arm of the Law III isn't all that bad of a movie; it's just that there are so many other HK films out there that do this kind of thing better and are probably more worthy of your time.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewer Score: 6