Saturday, July 22, 2023

White Storm 3 Heaven or Hell (2023) NYAFF 2023 Fantasia 2023

WHITE STORM 3 HEAVEN OR HELL is the third film in the Hong Kong film series and to me it’s the least of the trilogy.

Aaron Kwok and  Louis Koo play under cover police detectives who have infiltrated the operation of drug lord Sean Lau. When a the bust that is supposed to take Lau down goes sideways, Koo’s cover is blown and Kwok is severely wounded and carried off with Lau to Thailand, unconscious and still under cover.  As Koo tries to find his friend Lau begins making in roads into the drug trade into the Golden Triangle. Kwok slowly recovers and becomes emotionally attached to a Noon the girl who took care of him during his illness.

Beginning with the recovery of drugs in the South China Sea and a completely bat shit crazy shoot out on the docks of Hong Kong, WHITE STORM 3 begins spinning out it’s story  jumping back and forth through time to set up the  evens we are seeing in the present. It pauses periodically for some crazy action sequences and some heavy doses of melodrama that push the envelope toward silliness.

Lau, giving the only real performance in the film, happily dances back and forth between serious and silly creating a really bad guy who is fiercely loyal to his friends and seemingly devil may care. It’s the best thing in the film and deserves a better movie.

Actually the whole film seems to be stumbling over the line between seriousness and parody. There is lots of macho posturing, bad action tropes (bullets and explosions kill all the nameless figures and spare the stars), over done melodrama (like when Kwok must pry his lady love from hugging a post because she won’t leave the battle zone because she’s "used to the fighting"), to bad performances (one scene at the end between the 3 leads had  the people around me at the NYAFF screening roaring with laughter because of the ridiculous dialog and performances) and some WTF turns that provoke audible audience disbelief (a bomb to the head and a broach on a tire).  Most jaw dropping of all after the film essentially ends there is an  final thirty second sequence that looks like an ad for Hong Kong Airlines (I’m guessing they paid for product placement).

Even the action sequences, outside of the opener, are not what they should be. They look kind of half assed and as if they wanted to just blow things up.  Things are confused and it almost never sure what you are looking at unless the stars are in the frame. Yea it’s fun to watch things explode but the truth is with out the context that is missing for much of the film it’s kind of like watching random bits on You Tube.

Honestly I don’t hate WHITE STORM 3, I’m just disappointed. The first two films  were really good thrillers, this is just a mess.  (To be honest  it didn’t help that Louis Koo didn’t appear on the screening and NYAFF only announced it via a small out of the way note on the door to the auditorium and on the stage of the theater right at the start- I didn’t see it on social media. Honestly I would not have schlepped in to see the film which opened the next day in local theaters)

Worth a look for forgiving action fans

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