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Review A Better Tomorrow III: Love and Death in Saigon a.k.a. A Better Tomorrow III: Love and Death in Saigon: Uninspired and lackluster sequel!

genre: heroic bloodshed, bullet ballet, action, crime, drama

Tsui Hark and John Woo had a falling out during A Better Tomorrow II. Before this they were planning to make a prequel together. Woo already had written a screenplay for it which became Bullet in the Head. Tsui Hark made this.

I can't express how disappointed I was when I had watched A Better Tomorrow III for the first time. It was nothing like the first two and story wise it just was stupid and boring. Now after almost twenty years I have watched it again and while I already was prepared for how bad it was going to be I am now realizing I think I blocked out the worst out of my memory. I can't remember this being so cheesy and melodramatic. In a heroic bloodshed that usually is a plus when done right of course. But somehow Tsui Hark couldn't be bothered to put anything in this film. I understand that this was intended to show us how Mark Gor got to be the badass we know. However Tsui Hark completely misses the mark as most events are nonsensical. The supposed complicated love story is just devoid of sensitivity and romance. It's basically three guys (Mark Gor, Michael Cheung played by Tony Leung and Sam Ho) fighting for Anita Mui's character, Kitty Chow). Chow Yun-fat is great at these set ups when given the time. But if you think about it he barely gets to show his acting chops. Somehow Tsui Hark decided to let Anita Mui be the star. I like her. And she definitely is one of the better elements in the film but at the cost of Chow Yun-fat? That defeats the whole purpose of this prequel.

I gather most of you won't care and want to know if the action is any good. There might be enough there to say it's sufficient. However if you wanted anything like Woo delivered then you will be disappointed. It lacks the style, choreography and punch Woo is famous for. Now Tsui Hark is very capable of directing and choreographing action. But it seems like that he truly didn't care for this film much and it shows. All the action scenes lacked the emotional impact the first two A Better Tomorrow films had. It's one of the reasons I can keep watching those again and again. A Better Tomorrow III just will make you angry.

Overall A Better Tomorrow is an incredibly disappointing film since it never delivers on the Mark Gor mythology. It's just melodrama with gunplay since that is one of THE trademarks that made the character Mark Gor an icon. I can't recommend this one bit!

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