Young and Dangerous 3

Reviewed by YTSL

Omigod!  What IS it about Hong Kong moviemakers that make them seem to exponentially increase the grimness and violence quotients of successive installments of (what at least started off as) popular series?!  Granted that matters don't get as chaotic and overwrought in this third part of this Triad Boyz saga as in the final segment of the "Swordsman" trilogy.  Also, neither is the change of tone as sudden and extreme than that which greeted fans of "The Heroic Trio" in "Executioners" (since it occurred over three rather than two films).  Still, I actually wondered when watching the first few minutes of the work -- which not only featured unfamiliar faces but also quickly established a character played by Roy Cheung as arguably the most heinous villain encountered thus far in the "Young and Dangerous" series -- whether I had the right tape in my VCR.  And even if it is granted that I may tend to get more affected by what I behold in movies than many other individuals, it surely still says quite a lot that:  Close to one full week after viewing this intriguing triad drama, certain shocking scenes contained within it remain painfully and vividly etched in my psyche as well as memory.

Although Ho Nam (who is portrayed by a more and more shell-shocked looking Ekin Cheng), Chicken (Jordan Chan turns in another mature performance), Smartie (Gigi Lai makes one really feel for what may otherwise have been a rather pathetic character) and many other characters with which viewers of the two previous "Y&D" productions are familiar (including those played by Jerry Lamb, Michael Tse, Spencer Lam, Anthony Wong and Simon Yam) will be found in YOUNG AND DANGEROUS 3, gone are the cartoony sections and inserts of the kind which director Andrew Lau stated he had previously put in "to remind people "it's only a film!"" (In Miles Wood's "Cine East", 1998:64-65).  In their stead, unfortunately for non-readers of Chinese characters (like yours truly), are untranslated paragraphs of what I assume are contextualizing texts re goings on within and involving triad society at large as well as the Hung Hing gang; together with a definite sense that life and those things integrally related to it are meant to be taken seriously by this movie's viewers as well as characters (N.B. Although those behind it may have started off the series with entertainment as its main aim, perhaps in reaction to criticisms of their (earlier) work  effectively being triad recruitment films, I doubt that that is the only -- or even primary -- goal here).
This is not to say that YOUNG AND DANGEROUS 3 is entirely bereft of deliberately (as well as probably inadvertently) funny bits.  Much of the light relief is provided by a very welcome fresh personality in this
surely not glorious world of "rascals" (as the English subtitles refer to Ho Nam, Chicken and Co.):  The newly returned from England, foul-mouthed and sexually playful preacher's daughter (who is very well portrayed by Karen Mok).  Her interactions with Chicken, notably that which takes place in what they thought was a deserted -- bar for themselves -- religious space, contain a lot of spark as well as wit. The surprisingly touching scenes centering on Smartie in the middle of the film ought to make one smile as well as warm one's heart too.  Certain rather surreal sections of an Amsterdam interlude -- especially those that involve supporters of the local soccer team -- should also amuse as well as bemuse.
Still, I cannot emphasize enough how dark -- and mean as well as menacing even? -- is the tone of much of this gripping Andrew Lau-Manfred Wong collaborative effort.  Hopefully without spoiling things too much, the (potential) viewer ought to be forewarned of the existence of at least three scenes in this involving movie that some people will find disturbing; not just because of what occurs to certain characters but also by the manner plus the length of the time period in which it happens.  Shelly Kraicer was NOT exaggerating when he wrote in his review of this 1996 film that it contains a scene which "explodes with a force I haven't seen in HK films in quite a while"...and let me underscore that he undoubtedly was referring to an immense, exhausting and negative emotional rather than just physical force.
Lest all of my words thus far strike the reader as unfavorable ones, I wish to make it clear that I am actually majorly impressed by this well-made work.  After all, it is not like every movie -- not least one whose main character are gangsters (and their girlfriends) can actually cause me to react and feel so intensely (and not entirely badly, I should add).  Though the result is not aesthetically pleasing, the devastating combination of rawness and polish in this movie makes for a rather unique experience.  For those who have viewed the first two films in this -- thus far --compelling series, I think it will be inducement enough to watch this one when I state with the utmost certainty that:  You still ain't seen nothing yet until you watch YOUNG AND DANGEROUS 3.  To people who have yet to view any of this now infamous set of movies, I honestly think that this powerful episode -- whose Chinese title is an enigmatic "Wise Guys 3: Single Hand Covers Sky" -- can actually stand by itself, and also hold its own against many other quality Hong Kong cinematic offerings.
My rating for this film:  8.5


DVD Information:

Distributor - Universe

The transfer is excellent - deep colors, sharp image. 

Letterbox

Trailer

Previews: Young & Dangerous V, Portland Street Blues

8 Chapters

Subs - English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese or none

Easy to read subs on black border, though titles introducing scenes are not translated.

Star information on Ekin, Jordan, Simon Yam, Andrew Lau (director), Manfred Wong (writer)