The Four 3 Review: The Final Battle With A Lot Of Fantasy Wuxia Action
Gordon Chan’s blockbuster The Four trilogy comes to a conclusion with more fantasy wuxia action…
Emotionless has left Six Doors, as has Cold Blood, who has decided to investigate the death of Lord Bu on his own. The departure of two of the four constables has effectively left Six Doors defunct. At this time, trouble begins to brew in the Imperial Palace as Emperor Huizong plans to travel incognito to the outside world. When he is almost assassinated and subsequently disappears, Cold Blood, Emotionless, Iron Hands and Life Snatcher must band together once again under Master Zhuge to save the empire from a massive conspiracy.
The Four 3 Review:
It is said that all should watch the first 2 parts in order to follow the story. Based on Chinese Malaysian author Woon Swee Oan’s bestselling novel series ‘The Four Great Constables’, how truthful is the story? I won the movie pass in a contest and got to find out.
Zhuge Zhengwo (Wong Chau Sang) heads the Divine Constabulary with 4 capable constables under his charge. There is Cold Blood/Leng Lingqi (Deng Chao), a former spy from a rival department Department Six. He is previously sent to infiltrate the Constabulary and learn their secrets. However, he becomes a wolf when provoked. He is in love with Emotionless/Sheng Yayu (Liu Yifei), a lady in a wheelchair.
Looking after Emotionless like an older brother is Iron Hands/Tie Youxia (Chou Siu Long). The last is Life Snatcher/Cui Lueshang (Cheng Chung Kei), better known for his powerful kicks. Emotionless has learnt the truth behind her family’s assassination as a child. She can’t accept the fact that Ironhand is the killer.
This causes her to move out of the Divine Constabulary to stay with Jiao Niang (Tang Shui Mun) at her inn. She hates Iron Hand and also avoids Cold Blood. On the other hand, Cold Blood is caught in a love triangle with new Department Six head Ji Yaohua (Jiang Yiyan), who is doing undercover for a powerful Lord An Yun San(Yu Chenghui).
That is why she releases the assassin named Ruyan(Liu Yan) who kills the constable chief. She gets the antidote for Liu and this restores her looks. However, her life will be shortened but she is past caring over it. Ji is actually Ruyan’s junior and she is also secretly consuming another poison from An too to stay alive. Her hand often shakes to change colour and she has to suppress it.
The emperor (Su You Peng) creates a scene and wants to visit the city unannounced in order to get a better sense of his countrymen’s woes by leaving the palace. Cold Blood and Ji accompany him but the emperor goes missing after his boat explodes.
The emperor’s uncle, the prince (Lee Chi Hung) becomes a prime suspect and is locked up. Ruyan fails to kill him even though she disguises as a constable and sneaks away. The emperor survives and can trust no one. He is captured by Emotionless before he can get to the loyal Zhuge Zhengwo.
Emotionless nearly wants to kill the emperor to seek revenge. Cold Blood is worried for her safety and wants her to return but she refuses. She even tells him to focus his attention on Yaohua instead. Yaohua offers to explain to Emotionless but Cold Blood knows that she is too stubborn to listen.
The others come to the inn after knowing that the emperor is with Emotionless. Cold Blood and Life Chaser decide to escort the emperor to look for General Di to get his troops for help. Life Chaser’s friends disguise as merchants to tag along. Zhengwo will still remain in the city to watch on the prime minister.
Zhengwo wishes Emotionless to forget the past to be like him, not to ask too much. The rest are having steamboat at Divine Constabulary when Premier Cai‘s (Cao Bing Kun) men come to harass them. Meanwhile, Yaohua urges Emotionless to trust Cold Blood. Emotionless discovers that she can’t read the mind of others as well as before as she can’t tell what Yaohua is thinking.
Zhengwo immediately sends Ironhand to the inn. He gets there on time to bring Emotionless and Jiao Niang back. Ironhand has made a new pair of prosaic metals for Emotionless to wear so she can stand and walk from then on. Ironhand is silent when Emotionless rejects his help to want to wear them herself.
Zhengwo proposes to Jiang Niang to give her his jade pendant while she gives him her hairpin. Zhengwo gathers that the rest are in trouble and sets off. The Divine Constabulary is set on fire. Life Chaser shakes his head when the emperor wants him to spare money for the beggars when they are saving the money for the future. He gives the emperor wine to shut him up instead.
Lord An runs after them, wanting to kill the emperor. Emotionless and the others flee but their poor master has his skills completely absorbed by Lord An and he loses his skills. He grieves when Lord An passes him his pendant – that means Jiao Niang is dead.
Lord An wants revenge for his son An Shigeng (Wu Xiubo), the villain from the first movie who is now attached onto a tree for life. However when he is ready to go into the palace to claim himself as the emperor, Shigeng chooses to die in Yaohua’s arms. He is tired of living as a vegetable and hardens to death. Yaohao is in despair upon seeing Ruyan keeps eating other pills, showing that there is no antidote to her poison and she finds it unbearable now.
Emotionless regrets trusting Yaohua but the others tell her not to blame herself. It is till now that Life Chaser’s friends know of the emperor’s identity but they refuse to leave. This is the loyalty between friends that the emperor can’t gain. The imperial court is appalled when the emperor claims to be incompetent to want to pass the throne to Lord An as his life saviour.
Lord An suddenly kills Premier Cai even though he supports him as he wants to gain trust from the court officials. Premier Cai dies unwillingly as he has been his hackery all along. Yaohua stands with Lord An and all officials scold her for being a traitor. The emperor becomes Ruyan – it is her in disguise. Zhengwo appears with his disciples. The emperor also arrives with General Di – he can also have a loyal friend too. Yaohua is the one who betrays Lord An to get the emperor and all back to the capital.
Yaohua suddenly attacks Ruyan. The two are engaged in a battle and Emotionless helps her. Ruyan is killed but she also kills Yaohua. Yaohua tells Emotionless to care more about Cold Blood before she dies. She also reveals that Jiao Niang is still alive. Sure enough, Ironhand appears and the four are together. The four pit against Lord An and they are at the losing end. They keep vomiting blood as they need to be wary of him absorbing their inner strength.
Zhengwo notices Lord An getting weak. Lord An has absorbed too many pugilists’ inner strength and feels very unwell. He puts up an invisible protection shield but Zhengwo pierces Lord An’s hand with Jiao Niang’s hairpin. The four attack him with all their might and he burst into pieces. (This reminds me of Xingsu master in ‘Demi god and semi devils’. That is a big joke that he gets defeated so easily.)
The emperor meets all and announces that Cold Blood will head the Divine Constabulary. Zhengwo is slowly getting his strength back by practising. He decides to spend more time with Jiao Niang. The emperor offers all some wine, which Life Chaser grabs it fast.
The emperor tells Emotionless that he regrets setting the verdict to kill her family and will not do this anymore. She weeps upon knowing that her family has finally cleared their name. The four walk out of the palace and decide that this is a new day for them.
Woon only appeared for wuxia forums lately and did not write for many years. He only started writing recently and went for the movie premiere. He described meeting Director Chan Kar Sheung as knowing a close friend and thus sold the rights to him.
Although many disliked Emotionless to be a female, he praised Liu for her efforts and was the best person to be a female Emotionless. Many described the four constables looking more like beggars in the movie. It was acceptable to me but I grumbled over Ironhand’s handstyle – the designer was overly innovative.
Some also thought that getting Cheng to be Life Chaser was a joke but Chan protested as many did not know him well. He loves and hates distinctly just like the character. As for Deng, he was a successful actor that created chemistry with all. Chou’s martial arts background helped in making others learn from him.
Deng Chao had a serious role but Liu mentioned that he had a good sense of humour off screen. He often cracked jokes and gave Liu guidance in her role. Liu showed many faces of Emotionless so Chan praised her, saying that she would go far.
Most favourite character
Yaohua, she seems evil but she has a heart of gold. It is tragic that she is tied down by circumstances and can’t lead her own life.
Most hated character
Premier Cai, he will stop at nothing to create trouble for the constables.
As loyalties are tested and traitors exposed, it reaches the final countdown where the Department Six and Divine Constabulary join forces against the common enemy Lord An. We get to see how the CGI special effects gives everyone a chance to show off his or her skill. For me, it is a letdown, with Zhuge Zhengwo playing an important but yet far-too-easy move to Lord An’s end.
Even though it is said to the best of the three, The Four 3 does not satisfy me even though I have not watched the previous two movies. Although there isn’t any playback, I have no difficulty following the story. The main idea is Emotionless’s revenge and also the conspiracy in killing the emperor. It tells more of Emotionless’ struggle between forgiveness and revenge.
The romantic development between her and Cold Blood – sad to say, it does not run very well with me as I am familiar with the novel. That is why I can’t accept the two constables to fall in love with each other. Neither can I accept Yaohua as a constable who loves Cold Blood. In the novel, Yaohua is a ruthless killer who cheats Emotionless’s feelings to be killed by him in the end. I do not understand why Director Chan almost mutilated the entire novel, only preserving the main characters’ names.
Still, I must say that Deng gives quite a solid performance. He shares good chemistry with Liu, who in turn acquits herself well in her emotional scenes although I fell it’s far too many to become over the top. More can be on her conflicts with Ironhand, on how they iron out their differences.
Cheng finally shows that he can be good in serious scenes. Chou is too underutilised – what a waste as it’s a good chance to show that he acts well. It is always a joy to see Chau Sang on screen to bring both dignity and humour to Zhengwo. He shares unforgettable scenes with Liu and Tang. However, my surprise is from Jiang. She is not only pretty but also shows that she can act and fight with grace. She steals the limelight from the others although she is a supporting role.
Anyway, this movie provides a closure. It is easily understood. My friends even said this has better special effects than other segments where Cold Blood looks like wearing a mask as his wolf nature is shown. I just won the four DVD part 1 through a contest. I will try to watch it when free to find out the difference.