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The Four 3
|     review    |     notes     |     availability     |
The Four 2

Li Yifei, Deng Chao, Ronald Cheng and Collin Chou are the Four in The Four 3.
AKA: The Four: Final Battle
Chinese: 四大名捕大結局
Year: 2014
Director: Gordon Chan Car-Seung, Janet Chun Siu-Jan

Gordon Chan Car-Seung, Paul Cheng Jan-Bong, Abe Kwong Man-Wai


Gordon Chan Car-Seung, Susan Chan Suk-Yin, Maria Wong Si-Man, Frankie Tam Gong-Yuen, Philip Lui Koon-Nam, Woon Swee Oan (original novels)

Action: Ku Huen-Chiu
Cast: Deng Chao, Crystal Liu Yifei, Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei, Collin Chou (Ngai Sing), Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Jiang Yiyan, Alec Su, Liu Yan, Wu Xiubo, Yu Cheng-Hui, Sheren Teng Shui-Man, Baobeier, Waise Lee Chi-Hung, Tina Xiang Tian-Ran, Cai Xi, Cao Bing-Kun
  The Skinny:

Underwhelming conclusion to an underwhelming trilogy of martial arts adventures from the routinely underwhelming Gordon Chan. The Four movies aren't really bad or embarrassing, they're just not worth mentioning. For completists, mainly.

by Kozo:

It’s finally over – the film series you didn’t ask for or really quite understand. Gordon Chan’s Four films reach a merciful and underwhelming end after three films that never triggered more than mild urgency. Despite plenty of exciting source material, Chan and co-director Janet Chun built a large-scale fantasy trilogy on this ho-hum story arc: Our heroes fight a bad guy, two girls like the same guy, then the bad guy’s dad attacks and they defeat him. Nobody in the films tried to free the land or throw an evil piece of jewelry into a volcano – this is an epic series that’s mainly concerned with an uninteresting love triangle and occasional attempts by some guy and his dad to kill people. However, few people in the world of The Four seem to know that the guy or his dad exist, and are probably so busy tending to their cow or leaking roof that they don’t even care. The Four movies: like real life except with visual effects.

Plot recap because you probably don’t remember what happened in the previous films: When we last left the Four Great Constables of the Divine Constabulary, they were fractured by the revelation that Iron Hands (Collin Chou) helped massacre Emotionless’ (Liu Yifei) family, who were branded traitors by the Emperor and sentenced to death. That made the emo Emotionless go super-emo, the side effect being a break in her simmering romance with vague double-agent and Wolverine impersonator Coldblood (Deng Chao). Emotionless’ moping leaves an opening for Ji Yaohua (Jiang Yiyan), who belongs to law enforcement body Department Six and is not a member of the Four, to snag Coldblood for herself, though she’s also involved with the villain from the original Four, An Shigeng (Wu Xiubo) – who, by the way, was attached to a tree in Four 2 to keep him alive. Because, you know, trees. And life support. It must make sense to someone.

Oh, we almost forgot the last member of the Four, Life Snatcher (Ronald Cheng), who has received zero character development since the first film and now functions only as an affable presence and occasional ass-kicker. Iron Hands has his rift with Emotionless to give him some development, but despite that potent set-up, their conflict is easily solved and moved aside so Emotionless can spend even more time longing for Coldblood. Also, Emotionless is unsure if she should trust Yaohua, even though Emotionless supposedly has the ability to “read people”. She might want to check those powers of hers, because Yaohua is muy untrustworthy. Besides being involved with a tree, she works for An Shigeng’s dad Lord An Yunshan (Yu Cheng-Hui), who angles to overthrow the Emperor (Alec Su) because that’s what big bads aspire to do: take down the head of the country, state, conglomerate or Internet fraternity they belong to.

There’s plenty of crisscrossing intrigue in Four 3, but like in the earlier films, Gordon Chan and Janet Chun defuse the suspense by making sure the audience is fully informed of everything. That is, until the ending, when you realize one character was doing things not covered by Chan and Chun’s omniscient camera. The revelation makes that character perhaps the most pivotal person in the entire Four saga – even though that character is not one of the Four, and it’s not their mentor Zhu Zhengwo (Anthony Wong) either. It’s incredibly strange that in a film series about the Four Great Constables, other characters get more screentime than Life Snatcher or Iron Hands, and all other focus is given to the life-sapping Emotionless-Coldblood romance. Also, Emotionless is so self-absorbed that it gets insufferable; at one point, she threatens the Emperor – because he had her family killed, remember – but the Emperor actually comes off as more sympathetic than she does.

Liu Yifei’s one-note performance hurts Emotionless’ cred and Alec Su’s thoroughly entertaining take on the Emperor doesn’t help her either. The Emperor doesn’t make much sense, but Su gives him a fun mixture of righteousness and arrogance. Other performances are OK; Deng Chao is dour but serviceable, while Jiang Yiyan continues to be a bright spot in the series. Ronald Cheng and Collin Chou are fine when they appear (which isn’t all that much), as is Anthony Wong as the sage and venerable Zhu Zhengwo. Wong cribs from the bemused, unflappable half of Ian McKellan’s performance as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, but sadly not from the half that gets all thundery about not letting people pass. Amusingly, there is hot pot. The first Four frequently featured its characters partaking in that fine communal eating tradition, and hot pot returns for Four 3 – except now, the actual physical pot is even bigger! Also, Zhu Zhengwo eats hot pot during a fight sequence, demonstrating just how sage, unflappable and hungry he truly is.

I could talk forever about how uninspired these Four movies are, so I’ll wrap up with some positives. Besides the awesome sight of people fighting during dinner, the film offers dialogue like, “A living person shouldn’t ask a tree for advice” and “All I am now is a stool” – important wisdom for anyone who’s connected to a tree for life support. Also, the fighting and visual effects are passable (despite some annoying camerawork), and at one point the Four even try out a slick Voltron-type attack that’s hilarious (though I don’t think it was supposed to be). Looking back, the Four movies were OK as timekillers, and weren’t so much embarrassing as they were not worth mentioning. Like in Hollywood, if you attempt new franchises every week, one will eventually strike a chord and beget a trilogy – and the Four movies did just that in China. How it happened, I don’t know and I’m not sure it can ever be explained. The success of Gordon Chan’s Four movies are a mystery that may haunt us to the end of our days. (Kozo, 9/2014)

Notes: • This review is based on the 2D version of the film.
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Panorama (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital EX / DTS
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on 2D and 3D Blu-ray Disc
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