Once Upon a
Time in China 3

Dir: Tsui Hark
Starring: Jet Li, Rosamund Kwan, Max Mox, John Wakefield

We don't ask much from martial arts films. We happily forgive cliched plots, two-dimensional characters and even bad dubbing, just as long as they're entertaining. And this is where OUaTiC 3 falls down, because it is simply very boring. Dull, indeed, to the point where we turned it off an hour in, after one too many lengthy lion-dancing sequences. And we don't give up on many movies. The lion dance thing was used in Jackie Chan's The Young Master, but there, it was just one ingredient. Here, it's virtually the entire meal and tastes about as good as you'd expect.

There are some aspects of note, particularly the way the relationship between Wong Fei-hung (Li) and Aunt 13 (Kwan) is finally allowed to move beyond sidelong glances. The plot lacks the heavy political tension of the first two parts, yet doesn't really add much in to make up for it. There's an evil Russian (Wakefield) who seems to have designs on Aunt 13, and ends up involved in an assassination plot, which Wong must stop...probably by lion-dancing somehow, if we may be permitted a wild stab in the dark. There are a few half-decent fight sequences to briefly revive interest, but even these are not as good as you'd hope, and before you know it, hey, here come those pesky lions once more. The only thing worse than this would be 115 minutes of line dancing.


Whose Lion is it Anyway?
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