July 27, 2023
by Carla Hay
Directed by Herman Yau
Cantonese and Thai with subtitles
Culture Representation: Taking place in Hong Kong and in Thailand, the action film “The White Storm 3: Heaven or Hell” features an all-Asian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class, wealthy and the criminal underground.
Culture Clash: Two undercover cops from Hong Kong have conflicts with each other when they gain the trust of drug dealer and escape with him to the Golden Triangle.
Culture Audience: “The White Storm 3: Heaven and Hell” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching loud and obnoxious action flicks that have jumbled storytelling.
“The White Storm 3: Heaven or Hell” is a sloppily edited mess that jumps around too much in the story’s non-chronological timeline. This substandard action movie also does nothing new or interesting with a plot about undercover cops and drug dealers. The films in Hong Kong’s “The White Storm” movie series have no connection to each other, except that they are all action movies about undercover cops trying to arrest big-time drug dealers. Unfortunately, “The White Storm 3: Heaven or Hell” has no connection to quality filmmaking.
Written and directed by Herman Yau, “The White Storm 3: Heaven or Hell” has three main characters (two cops and one drug dealer) who get caught up in a crime caper filled with deception, false identities and issues over trust and loyalty. In the beginning of the movie, two undercover police officers from Hong Kong’s Narcotics Bureau are part of a major drug bust that takes place at a harbor on the high seas south of Kong Kong. Young cop Cheung Kin-hang (played by Aaron Kwok) is more impulsive and more likely to take risks than his older colleague Au Chi-yuen (played by Louis Koo), who is much more methodical and “by the book.”
A ship at this harbor is carrying about $300 million worth of heroin that was hauled out of metal trash bins hidden in the sea. King-hang and Chi-yuen have both been tasked with arresting drug lord Hong So-chai (played by Sean Lau), nicknamed Suchat, as well as Suchat’s gang, who are responsible for this drug shipment. During this drug bust, several members of the gang get arrested, by Suchat gets away.
Heroin is the main drug that Suchat’s sells, but he’s also dealer of methamphetamine, nicknamed ice. Suchat meets King-hang and Chi-yuen while these two cops are undercover. King-han’s alias is Billy. Chi-yuen’s alias is Wing. King-hang is able to win over Suchat’s trust easier because King-hang gets shot during a police raid where Suchat flees. Suchat sees it as a sign of loyalty that King-hang “took a bullet” for Suchat.
Through a series of events that are muddled, because the movie’s three-year timeline goes back and forth in haphazard ways, all three men end up hiding out together in the Golden Triangle, near the border of Thailand and Myanmar. They also spend time in Laem Chabang, Thailand. King-hang and Chi-yuen pretend to be outlaws with Suchat.
The foundation of Suchat’s drug-dealing business comes from the opiate poppy-harvesting work done by local villagers, who rely on this money to survive. King-hang meets a young female harvester named Noon (played by Yang Caiyu), who lives with her ailing grandfather in one of these villages. King-hang and Noon are attracted to each other, but King-hang doesn’t want to blow his cover by telling her his true identity.
What happens to the potential romance between King-hang and Noon is very easy to predict in this violent story that’s just a bunch of scenes with characters lying to each other and fighting each other. Here’s an example of the mind-numbing and idiotic dialogue in the movie. Noon tells King-hang soon after they meet that she does not know why the region where she lives is called the Golden Triangle: “I’ve never seen any gold … We can barely make money to feed ourselves.”
The car chases, shootouts, explosions in “The White Storm3: Heaven or Hell” are all just distractions from the movie’s very flimsy plot. The acting and dialogue in the movie are very generic or just outright terrible. “The White Storm 3: Heaven or Hell” is just another soulless action flick with nothing uniquely distinctive about it. It’s most definitely a type of hell to watch for viewers who want an action movie with an enthralling story and compelling characters.
CMC Pictures released “The White Storm 3: Heaven or Hell” in select U.S. cinemas on July 20, 2023. The movie was released in China on July 6, 2023, and in Hong Kong on July 27, 2023.