More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 0 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Unity of Heroes by Jay Seaver

Hanagatami by Jay Seaver

Predator, The by Jay Seaver

Fahrenheit 11/9 by Rob Gonsalves

Madeline's Madeline by Jay Seaver

Won't You Be My Neighbor? by Rob Gonsalves

Brothers' Nest by Jay Seaver

Mandy by Peter Sobczynski

Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum by Jay Seaver

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Once Upon a Time in China 3
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Jay Seaver

"Jet Li subdues an entire street fight armed with, basically, his jacket."
3 stars

It happens. A movie does well, and then has a sequel that's also very good. The studio then smells "franchise", and starts spitting more follow-ups out. They're not as good, and they start to stray from the original films (almost always incorporating more comedy), but they've got enough of what attracted the audience to the originals to keep their interest.

The Once Upon A Time In China movies (simply called Wong Fei-Hung in Hong Kong) are centered on China coming under the influence of Europe and America as seen through the eyes of Wong Fei-Hung, a Cantonese healer and master of the martial arts. Wong is an actual historical figure, though the movies have treated him more as a folk hero. Here, Wong (played by Jet Li) travels to Beijing to tour his father's new medicine factory, just as the Empress Dowager announces a Lion Dancing competition, which a local crime lord intends to dominate. She also intends to pit the foreign powers against each other, though little comes of this plot thread. Along for the ride are Wong's assistant Fu and his "aunt" (apparently adopted by his grandfather) and romantic interest Peony Yee (Rosamund Kwan).

Here, the East-versus-West conflict is mostly reduced to a rivalry between Wong and a Russian diplomat named Tumanovsky; he and Yee had met while she was educated abroad. Yee is an avid phtographer, and the Russian gives her an early motion-picture camera, which irritates Wong and serves to capture a betrayal later. Wong's skill as a doctor is also given somewhat short shrift.

But, what about the fights? They're pretty good, if not quite up to the high standards set by director Tsui Hark with the series's first two installments. There's a little too much wire work, and the lion dancing serves to obscure the fighting somewhat. Still, Jet Li and Xin Xin Xiong (as rival-cum-partner Club Foot) are exceptionally skilled, and scenes such as Wong subduing an entire street fight armed with, basically, his jacket or fighting on a greasy floor against opponents wearing cleats are fun to watch. The results of some of these fights are a little bloodier than I remember the first two movies being, but it's mostly pretty well-done.

The Once Upon A Time In China series was starting to show a little wear with this installment; the next sequel doesn't feature either Tsui Hark or Jet Li. #3, though, still has enough of what made the series great to be worth a look.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 06/20/04 09:36:56
[printer] printer-friendly format  

Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  02-May-1993 (R)
  DVD: 17-Nov-1998



Directed by
  Tsui Hark

Written by
  Tsui Hark

  Jet Li
  Rosamund Kwan
  Shun Lau
  Siu Chung Mok
  John Wakefield
  Xin Xin Xiong

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast