Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chinese Connection 3 [Fist Of Fury III] - 2/5

Bruce Li returns yet again for one more sequel to Bruce Lee's classic The Chinese Connection (aka Fist of Fury) to round out a trilogy. Typical with franchises, even low-budget B-martial arts films, the series grows stale and Fist of Fury III (or Chinese Connection 3... sick of these alternate titles yet?) proves the simple plot of the first film wasn't strong enough to be strung out through a series of three films (god forbid 4 films if you count New Fist of Fury).

Chinese Connection 3 picks up not long after the events of Chinese Connection 2 with Bruce Li returning home after avenging his Brother's death and defeating the Japanese from taking over his martial arts school. Sadly trouble follows and Li strangely enough runs into some Japanese while walking through a field! A fight ensues, he easily wins and is re-united with his mother and younger brother. The Japanese are still upset that he destroyed their martial arts school and killed its instructors so they come up with a complicated plan to get revenge which includes building a Casino in his home town. Li in the mean time visits his uncle which runs a martial arts school and the Japanese put their plan forward by killing off his family members and getting Li accused of rape and murder. Not surprisingly Li sets out for revenge.

Li again is adequate and the fights are well staged but the dubbing is god awful and ruins any sort of emotion he could possibly emote. His character starts off the same calm and collected person he was in the last picture but by the end of the film he is completely psychotic, reminding me of Bruce Lee's high strung character of the original film. I really dug this as I never really felt that Li truly got angry in the last picture but the Japanese finally pushed him over the edge here! The rest of the cast is typical stock characters for B-martial arts pictures which of course includes the typical love interest.

The film overall seems poorly made, even for a B-picture. The editing, poor score, and novice directing don't add anything to a rather uninteresting plot. What's odd about this sequel is it gets away from the rival martial arts school aspect of the first two films. Sure it still has the Japanese as the villains but I missed the school rivalry portion of the plot. I guess this was the filmmakers way of making this sequel a little different but I just found the story completely uninteresting. I do however like the third act of the film when Li does go off the deep end and goes completely nuts to get revenge. His rage mixed with ominous rainy weather did get me more engrossed but the film strangely has too many climaxes. As soon as you think he beats the head bad guy, another one shows up and another fight ensues. It just became ridiculous after a while. I did find the idea of giving Li a sidekick to have potential but the filmmakers decided to go nowhere with this idea and the potential side-kick falls flat on his face.

I found this third entry worth a watch but overall it was just rather uninteresting. Perhaps with better filmmakers would this have been a rousing martial arts movie but as is it just left me a little hallow inside. Like usual with these post-Bruce Lee Bruceploitation films we get graced with an ultra shitty DVD of it in America. This DVD makes my DVDS for Chinese Connection 2 and Exit the Dragon look like Criterion releases! The film has horrible compression artifacts and the audio transfer that has high pitched cracking whenever a character talks. Perhaps with a actual good transfer of the film I would have enjoyed it more but for now I'm stuck with this shit DVD. Ironically the film is in a double feature with New Fist of Fury, that "other" sequel to Fist of Fury starring Jackie Chan.

Bonus Rant: When this film was released on VHS by Video Gems, they wrongly put the title Fist of Fury II on the video box art when it should have been a "III." This caused a whole lot of confusion among fans and I myself was confused when I bought it on VHS. They also must not have realized that Fist of Fury I & II were released in America as Chinese Connection 1 & 2 respectively so technically there was no Fist of Fury I or II! Dumbass video distributors just don't give these Bruceploitation films any respect!

Written By Eric Reifschneider

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