Once Upon a Time in China III (1993)

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 11/01/2005

Yet another chapter in the story of Wong Fei-Hung (Li). This time, Fei-Hung travels with his sidekick Fu (Mok) and girlfriend Aunt Yee (Kwan) to Bejing to visit his father's medicine shop. The local government has decided to hold a "lion dance" competition to bolster the populace's kung-fu skills in the hope of getting rid of the growing foreign influence. This sets off a gang war as the Triads fight each other for the right to be in the competition. One Triad in particular, a kung-fu master known as Clubfoot (Hung) seems set on also beating Fei-Hung in the process. Things turn even uglier when Aunt Yee uncovers a plot to assassinate the president during the lion dance. Once again, it's up to Fei-Hung to save the day.

The plot in OUATIC3 is a bit more linear than the previous movies and, as such, it may be a better movie for newbies in the genre, though some knowledge of Chinese history would still be helpful in following the political twists and turns. Visually, the film looks phenomenal and there's tons of high-flying wire-fu action. My only real complaint with the film is there's a lack of one-on-one fighting. The huge lion dances/gang fights are great, but there's nothing in the movie to match the intensity of the Jet Li/Donnie Yen battle in OUATIC2. The ending is also unbelievably cheesy, with Li delivering a speech that needlessly hammers in some symbolism. Overall, though, OUATIC3 is a fine movie and a good addition to the series.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewed by: Arshadnm6
Date: 04/14/2005
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

Reviewed by: balstino
Date: 05/02/2003
Summary: Ok, lots of lion dancing!

The absence of Yuen Woo Ping is noticable as the fights looked different in this edition. Nice to see the characters develop but the first 2 films definitely had grittier action. See if you must.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 02/17/2002
Summary: plot wearing thin

This is where the series first began to fail in my opinion. The first was excellent, the second wasn't bad, and this again isn't too bad, but the whole 'magic' of the story has warn away by the end of part 3. Tsui Hark should have finished with it, but why they decided to make ANOTHER 3 after this is beyond me.

Rating: 3/5

Reviewed by: Ryoga
Date: 12/25/2001

Part three of the series and this time Wong Fei Hong (played by Jet Li once more) goes to the capitial to visit his father but has been trashed by a gang. Featuring many lion dances and few fights, this may be the lest favorite of many people but I'd say it is still good. Hung Yan Yan appears as Clubfoot.

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 02/19/2001
Summary: GOOD!!

Tell me if you have noticed this!!
AS this movie series goes on, it feels like the villians are becoming less and less a match for Wong Fei Hung. If you have watched all 6 movies so far, you'll have to agree!!

Club Foot was a good introduction to this series of movies, but when Wong Fei Hung defeats Club Foot, i thought the movie was over!! His former boss didn't seem like a match at all for WFH!!

The quality is still has good as the first 2!! If you liked the first 2, this is a must watch!!


Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 02/17/2001
Summary: Amazing third sequel

Third installment of the famous ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA Series, which wouldn't exactly be inaccurate to say that it is the best movie series ever made. I just find it impossible to dislike any one of the series, and if you thought the series would devalue itself on the way, here is proof for your wrong prediction! Featuring outstanding lion dancing, fabulous performance by the whole cast, nonstop action - Jet Li style, plus your favorite heroic theme song and a politically-creative story. Only Jet Li and Tsui Hark could have continued the trend of such an astonishing classic! I was loving every second of this 3rd masterpiece! Easily superior than the previous sequel, which failed to interest me big time. Pretty much up to the standards of the first one, which will forever be in my top five list of all time favorites. [9/10]

Reviewed by: David Harris
Date: 06/09/2000

Review courtesy of Jet Li UK - The Official Jet Li UK Fan Club (www.jet-fans.co.uk)

This second sequel to the classic original has a lot to recommend it but as the two previous films are two of the best in the entire Hong Kong catalogue it falls a little short of the high standards set by those films. Director Tsui Hark brings his considerable skills to the table but it seems like he felt it was a case of deja vu which it was (twice in fact) and it appears he was tired with the subject matter (at least as far as film making goes).

The fact that he bowed out of the directors chair after this one (as you all know Jet bowed out of the series after III only to return for "Once Upon A Time In China & America") seems to confirm my theory. Asides from the "Lethal Weapon" films I can't recall any series of films being directed entirely by a single person so three films and then goodbye isn't so bad !

The story really kicks off when Wong Fei Hung goes to visit his father in Beijing who runs a medicine factory. Accompanying Wong are Auntie (Rosamund Kwan) and his sidekick Liang Kuan (Mok Siu Cheung).

The meat of the story revolves around a local lion dance contest. In preparing for it the local rival factions are in danger of getting "overheated" and in steps Wong Fei Hung to try and calm things down.

As if that weren't sufficient a task for Wong he is the subject of an attempted assassination by the gang leader Zhao. Also Auntie - now his fiancee - has a "friend" from the past show up which needless to say Wong doesn't take too kindly too.

Both of the first two films were in their own way quite political and although it can be said this one is also the content is very much less resonant. There is more humour in this film than the first two which for me is no bad thing but for the more "serious" fan might prove to be an unattractive addition.

This film although being a sequel is a significantly different beast. You won't find many people who would argue that the martial arts action in this film was better or even just equal to either of the first two films.

Thankfully one of the things it does have in common with the earlier films other than the obvious is that it looks very classy indeed which is no doubt down to Director Tsui Hark and his Director of Photography on the film Lau Wai-Keung (although he didn't work on either of the first two). The music is a significant part of any film but this is particularly true of the "Once..." films (the vocal version of the theme in the first film is the stuff of legend) and in this the third film there is a alternative vocal version of the theme that we all know and love over the opening credits.

Jet scenes with Rosamund Kwan are very well played and their screen partnership is one of the high points of the film. The rest of the cast is more than competent but the film in its entirety lacks the "bite" of the earlier films which isn't to say that it's a bad film it's just that first two are two of the absolute best !

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Slightly uneven film that was re-cut several times after the premiere - there are versions ranging from 90 minutes to over 2 hours in length. Good new character is "Club-Foot", who's able to run around hanging from the ceiling. Good fight on a slippery floor. Lots of lion-dancing.

[Reviewed by Anonymous]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Don't get me wrong, I like lion dances, but geez!!! Was it necessary to have about 500 different lions all in the same place at the same time? The extra huge lion at the end was cool, but I felt like I was watching a lion dance competition instead of a kung fu movie. The character of Clubfoot was the only one to really kick some butt, and that was only when he was a bad guy. I expected a lot more from this movie.


[Reviewed by Dale Whitehouse]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

During a troubled time in China in the late 1800's, the corruptEmpress Dowager and her favorite eunuch Li Hung Cheung decide to hold a Lion Dance Competition. But the Lion Dance (martial arts) schools see the competition as an opportunity to boost their strength, causing much chaos and fighting. Wong Fey-Hong, the best martial artist in China, travels to Peking to visit his father, a lion-head manufacturer, and is forced to defend his father's school against an aggressive rival. Wong manages this, but Yee, his fiancee, runs into an old Russian boyfriend who gives her a motion picture camera as a gift. The camera captures a plot by the Russian officer to assassinate Li Hung Cheung during the Lion Dance Competition. Wong enters the Competition to stop the attempted assassination.

[Reviewed by Rim Films Catalog]

Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

Jet Li must quash a Russian plot to murder the ruling eunuch, fight a band of gangsters, and find a way to propose to Rosamund Kwan. The fact that you know what's going to happen doesn't detract from this impeccably-paced fu flick, highlighted by a hilarious fight with baddies on a floor covered with oil.


[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 7