A Better Tomorrow III: Love and Death in Saigon (1989)

R   |    |  Action, War

A Better Tomorrow III: Love and Death in Saigon (1989) Poster

A man travels from China to Vietnam, on the brink of war with America, to retrieve his uncle and cousin but find complications when he falls in love with a female gangster with a dangerous ex.


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1 August 2002 | Bogey Man
| Prequel to John Woo's first two "Tomorrow" films
Tsui Hark directed this sequel (1989) to John Woo's classic heroic bloodshed films Better Tomorrow 1 and 2 made couple of years earlier, and this third installment is more a prequel than sequel. It concentrates on what happened before the first two films and has more drama than action in it. Chow Yun Fat is again Mark Gor who is in Vietnam and meets there his cousin Mun (Leslie Cheung) who is just released from prison when Mark arrives in Vietnam. They meet mysterious female assassin Kit (the beautiful sweetheart Anita Mui) and both of the men are attracted by Kit. The film concentrates pretty much on the war infested Saigon and the hell that's free in there, so there isn't any particular plot in the film, but that doesn't mean it's not interesting.

I think there's couple of strong scenes of social criticism, mostly the horrific "customs scene" at the airport when Mark, Mun, Kit and Mun's father try to travel away from the country and are abused by the corrupted custom officers. Also the scene at the hospital is very harrowing and is there to underline righteously the state of the world of that time, and unfortunately there are even today places with same kind of circumstances in our world. Fortunately Tsui's attitude isn't this time as underlining as in his Once Upon a Time in China (1991), and Tomorrow 3 is therefore perhaps more noteworthy film as commenting society.

The visuals are also brilliant as can be expected from this director. There are great use of blue smoke again and the gun fights are incredibly beautifully shot and are more effective than any gun fight in some Western effort. The slow motion death scene of one important character in the film's finale is perhaps among the most beautiful "heroic death scenes" I've seen and it is finished very carefully and thus it has such a power. After that scene everyone should know what this name "heroic bloodshed" for this genre means and what makes it so unique. The end is very sad, too, but as we know how Mark ends up in his subsequent adventures, it gives some positivism for the sad ending of this third film. The ending is little irritating due to it's prolonged gun battles and fire power, and I think it should have stopped little earlier in order to be more effective finale for the otherwise pretty great film.

Better Tomorrow 3 is not as great and interesting as Woo's films, but still this is much more than average effort from Hollywood, and due to Tomorrow 3's great look and visuals, I give this gladly 8/10 rating and think this is among the greatest films Tsui Hark has directed himself. He has produced perhaps as many films as he has actually directed and many have said he is better producer than director, but this film shows that he really knows how to direct noteworthy films, too.

Critic Reviews


Release Date:

20 October 1989


Cantonese, English, Vietnamese

Country of Origin

Hong Kong

Filming Locations


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