Ah-ryeong (played by Shu Qi) is the heir to a Cantonese criminal empire. In the opening setpiece of "My Wife is a Gangster 3" she and her father Lim (played by Ti Lung) are attempting to make nice with a rival gang but it doesn't go so well, since apparently some people find the idea of a woman mafia heir to be an object of amusement. So Ah-ryeong gets sent off to Korea under the protection of Gi-cheol (played by Lee Beom-soo) and his crew. They're really more incompetent chaperones though, since Lim can take care of herself.
The central conceit of "My Wife is a Gangster 3" is just the contrast between Ah-ryeong's hypercompetence and Gi-cheol's inability to manage simple tasks. Compare their introductions. Where Ah-ryeong is making it clear that she only kills exactly as much of a person as she feels like killing, Gi-cheol struggles to get through a conversation confirming he has the bare minimum qualifications to look after Ah-ryeong.
To put into perspective just how incompetent Gi-cheol is, he can't even speak Chinese competently and ends up having to hire a translator just to communicate with Ah-ryeong. Not that he has much to say. All Gi-cheol has going for him is sheer bravado. Ah-ryeong sees through him so transparently that she quickly stops even pretending to pay attention to his veiled threats. Bear in mind the language barrier is not really that big a deal, since Ah-ryeong most effectively communicates through the language of violence.
Gi-cheol, though, all he has is false machismo. Even when an opportunity for some cool action moves on Gi-cheol's part shows up, Gi-cheol inevitably fumbles his chance to impress Ah-ryeong, which is funny. Observe how by the end Gi-cheol isn't even trying to help Ah-ryeong in the whole gangster plot, having instead come up with a sentimental goal which he still manages to screw up clumsily. Not that the results matter. Ah-ryeong is touched by how hard Gi-cheol is willing to try.
Note that this simple comedy is about the only real content "My Wife is a Gangster 3" has. Ah-ryeong is so busy just being mildly annoyed at Gi-cheol's crew that she's not paying attention to the main gangster plot at all, and we abruptly cut back to Hong Kong at one point to learn that quite a bit has happened in her absence. A storyline about Ah-ryeong's mother is also similarly very underdeveloped. It's never made clear whether Ah-ryeong came to Korea specifically to find her mother, or whether she was just taking advantage of a coincidence.
But see, when the premise of the movie is just culture clash comedy, with a heavy emphasis on what meaning is lost in translation, is the plot really that important? Personally I just liked watching the situation comedy. I mean sure, the action sequences are neat, if brief, and have really questionable scene-to-scene continuity. Although considering "My Wife is a Gangster 3" doesn't even pretend to have continuity with the previous movies, my expectations were pretty low. And they were definitely met.
Review by William Schwartz
Available on Blu-ray from YESASIA and on Netlfix
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "My Wife is a Gangster 3""
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