Issue #218a           HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES              June 28th, 2004

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Three Against The World
(1988; Golden Harvest/Bo Ho Films Co./Paragon Films)

Cantonese: Kwun lung duet bo
Mandarin: Qun long duo bao
English: Cluster of Dragons Fight Over Treasure


RATING: 6/10


"Three Against Each Other" would have been a more accurate title for this Golden Harvest production which, like STAGE DOOR JOHNNY (reviewed in issue #170a), was shot on the expensive period sets the company had originally built for Jackie Chan's MIRACLES. Charming, unshakeably confident rogue Charlie Chan (Andy Lau Tak-wah) pledges to help his godfather protect the family's faltering insurance company, which faces instant ruin should a priceless copy of the Koran be stolen. While guarding it, Chan discovers that two formidable competitors would like to get their hands on the artifact: suave sharp shooter Ma Yun-lung (Norman Tsui Siu-keung) and the diminutive but slick Cho Fei-fan (Teddy Robin Kwan). Chan is able to keep the Koran out of their hands while it is being transported to the exhibition hall but Ma and his lover make a try for it soon afterwards. While he works on strategies that will stymie his adversaries' next move, Chan is distracted by a femme fatale (Rosamund Kwan Chi-lam). Is she genuinely attracted to him or is this part of another scheme to keep him off guard?

Andy Lau Norman Tsui Teddy Robin Kwan

While not as original or involving as the best caper films, this is a likeable effort that benefits considerably from its cast, lavish settings, and elegant costumes. Director Brandy Yuen Chun-yeung (MASTER OF ZEN) keeps the intricate double and triple crosses moving along nicely and there is some fairly well-staged action, courtesy of Yuen Wah (obvious undercranking takes some of the fun out of it). Those who enjoy spotting anachronisms in period films will love a scene midway through which features nightclub waitresses dressed like Playboy bunnies! Sandy Lam Yik-lin has a nice supporting role (as Cho's acrobatic daughter), as does the ever energetic Chin Kar-lok (as a novice security guard who helps Chan keep tabs on everyone). Wong Chi-keung (as the owner of the Koran, who wants it stolen so that he can take over the insurance company), Tse Ling, Yip Wing-cho, Yuen Shun-yee, Chung Fat, Cho Tat-wah, Shing Fui-on, Yuen Woo-ping, Wu Ma, and Corey Yuen Kwai also appear.


The transfer (presumably identical to the one included on the now discontinued Mega Star release) looks quite sharp and colorful; the source material is still in decent condition. Unlike the Mega Star disc, the audio tracks have been left in their original mono and sound fine. English subtitle translation is fairly good but a number of lines are presented within quotation marks for no apparent reason. The theatrical trailer is included. Avoid the synopsis, which reveals more of the storyline than is necessary.

Sandy Lam Rosamund Kwan Chung Fat (left), Norman Tsui

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Deltamac. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.

DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC -- Region 0
  • Deltamac #DVD78086
  • Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional & Simplified Chinese
  • 9 Chapters
  • 4:3 Letterbox (1.90:1)
  • 85 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Australia: M 15+
  • Great Britain: 15
  • Hong Kong: II
  • Ontario: PG
  • Quebec: 13+
  • Singapore: PG
  • Contains moderate violence


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful