Movies & TV / Columns

The Top 5 Threequels

September 28, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Star Wars Return of the Jedi

The Top 5 Part 3 Movies

It’s been my experience that, by the time a movie franchise hits “Part 3,” people automatically assume that the movie is going to be terrible. It isn’t true, but plenty of people see it as a rule of some sort. It’s ridiculous. There are oodles of great “Part 3” movies out there. Some of them don’t actually have “Part 3” in their titles, but they’re the third movies in their respective franchises and they’re awesome. That’s what’s really important.

So what are the best “Part 3” movies out there?

Honorable Mentions

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors: Not that the first two Freddy movies didn’t feature weird beard dream imagery and whatnot, but Dream Warriors really upped the ante on the whole horror fantasy idea at the heart of the franchise and really made a new Freddy movie seem like a big deal event, bigger than ever before. The movie is also still scary, which is what matters most.

Trancers 3: Deth Lives: After the happy ending of part 2, Deth Lives makes the Trancers world dark and mysterious, with both a future and past that’s unsettled and disturbing. Top notch performances from star Tim Thomerson as Jack Deth, Andrew Robinson as the movie’s villain Col. Mutha, Megan Ward as a badass future warrior Alice Stillwell, and Melanie Smith as a troubled Trancers recruit. I love this movie.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: It’s been a Christmas classic and a must watch for people every Christmas season since it came out in December 1989. It features some of the funniest bits in the entire Griswold family vacation franchise, and a brilliant performance as Cousin Eddie from Randy Quaid. Who else watches this movie every Christmas season?

Army of Darkness: The third movie in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead franchise is a goofy medieval time travel fantasy movie as opposed to a hard core demon zombie horror flick and it works brilliantly. Star Bruce Campbell is hilarious as Ash, and the movie is chock full of one liners and shit movie nerds will be quoting for eternity.

Die Hard with a Vengeance: Both a “race against time” movie and a heist movie, Die Hard with a Vengeance shows us Bruce Willis at the very top of his big deal movie star game, Samuel L. Jackson as a great sidekick, and Jeremy Irons as one of the most dastardly action movie villains in history. It’s also probably the last truly great movie director John McTiernan will ever make.

The Enforcer: The third movie in the Dirty Harry franchise has Clint Eastwood teaming up with Tyne Daley and taking on a group of left wing terrorists and disgruntled Vietnam vets who make up The People’s Revolutionary Strike Force. The terrorists kidnap the mayor and hold him for ransom on Alcatraz. Plenty of great action scenes, one liners from Harry, some terrific chemistry between Eastwood and Daley, and one of the most brutal head shots in movie history (right when the terrorists kidnap the mayor but before they do that they shoot the mayor’s aide right in the head. It’s absolutely vicious).

The Trial of Billy Jack: This movie is somewhat self-indulgent, with its nearly three hour running time and the number of social issues it tries to address, but that’s why it’s so damn great. This is star Tom Laughlin’s real deal vision for what he wanted Billy Jack to be, and it’s a movie that is worth checking out, for both Billy Jack fans and people who like to experience one artist’s vision.

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5- Death Wish 3: This third movie in the Death Wish franchise is one of the most insane action movies ever made. The first two Death Wish movies were down and dirty revenge movies, where Big Chuck Bronson’s architect-turned-vigilante Paul Kersey walks the streets of New York City (the first one) and Los Angeles (part two), blowing away street criminals because, essentially, it’s what he needs to do after his wife was killed and his daughter was raped (his maid was raped, too). The third movie has Kersey back in New York City, staying in his old friend’s apartment (his old friend is killed at the very beginning of the movie by members of a street gang), hanging out with Martin Balsam, and working, under the table, with the cops to take out the very street gang that killed his old buddy. Ed Lauter is great in the movie as the somewhat sleazy cop that uses Kersey to clean up the streets, and Gavan O’Herlihy is one gigantic scumbag as Fraker, the leader of the gang. Bronson has some weird scenes with Deborah Raffin, who plays his love interest (she ends up getting killed by Fraker in a fiery car crash because that’s the kind of stuff that happens to anyone that gets close to Bronson’s Kersey. His goddamn name sounds like “curse”). And the ending? One of the greatest insane action sequences of all time: a full on riot where Kersey wastes the bad guys with his trusty Wildey handgun and a Browning 30 caliber machine gun, all the while the neighborhood under siege rises up and joins in on the carnage. Still amazing 35 years later.

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4-. Day of the Dead: George A. Romero’s third zombie movie didn’t find its audience until years after its release in 1985, mostly because it is the exact opposite of Dawn of the Dead. Dawn is colorful, goofy, and action packed. Day of the Dead is kind of sad, depressing, contemplative, and not hopeful until the end. I think that’s why it wasn’t a big hit with horror audiences and Romero fans: it took over 90 minutes to get to the hopeful part. When people did, finally, “get” the movie, they noticed it had strong performances from a cast that obviously had to endure a lot to make a movie (everyone sure seems miserable, existing underground for weeks on end) and some of the best zombie gore make up effects ever put on film (and those effects still hold up today. Very much Tom Savini’s greatest work in the zombie movie world). It seems like an odd way to end a trilogy, but then this is the movie that Romero ended up making when his original idea had to be cut down because the money people couldn’t justify spending $7 million dollars on an unrated movie. Day of the Dead is also Romero’s most technically accomplished movie up until that point. Day of the Dead is slickly made and looks like it cost way more than it did. People will likely still be watching this movie 35 years from now. It will still matter and still have something to say about people, society, and the world.

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3- John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum: I didn’t think that director Chad Stahelski and company would actually be able to top the action madness of John Wick: Chapter 2 with Chapter 3: Parabellum, simply because Chapter 2 was so damn perfect. What the hell could they do? Well, director Stahelski and star Keanu Reeves decided to make the assassin world that Wick and the others exist in more elaborate and complex (all that stuff about “the table”), make the great Mark Dacascos one of the top villains for Wick to do battle with, and just make the action sequences bigger and more intense. And that last factor is amazing because, again, how the hell were they going to top the second movie? The gun battles are so freaking intense in this movie (the scene in The Continental where Wick takes on the heavily armored SWAT team with the shotgun is one of the greatest things I’ve ever see in any kind of movie). And loud. Holy crap! The topped the second one, they really did. Are they going to be able to do it again with whatever they decide to call the fourth one? I’m going to have to stop doubting them. I think they will top Parabellum!

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2- Return of the Jedi : Plenty of Star Wars nerds still crap all over this movie because of the presence of the Ewoks (they only exist to sell toys!… unlike everything else in the movie. Ha), but they’re a perfect group of characters to join up with the Rebellion to take on the evil Empire and defeat the bad guys once and for all. Because the Rebellion is smaller, has fewer resources at its disposal, and is perpetually stuck taking on a much bigger foe. The Ewoks are the same way. Look at how they end up taking on the Stormtroopers at the end of the movie. Some of the Ewok weaponry works, some of it fails miserably. That’s the Rebellion in a nutshell, isn’t it? Return of the Jedi also has Luke Skywalker at his most badass, using a Force choke, taking on Jabba’s entire gang of criminals, and taking on Darth Vader one last time. I still get goosebumps watching the sequence where Vader threatens to turn Princess Leia to the Dark Side and Luke goes right at him. The music swelling in the background, the ferocity of Luke’s frontal attack on Vader, it’s so damn emotional. And the ending? The good guys win! And while I prefer the reworked new theme Lucas put in the Special Edition, I also still like the original “Yub Nub” song. They both work. The movie also shows us, just in case we didn’t know by that point, the Empire is pure evil, and the Emperor is a piece of shit.

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1- Goldfinger: While the second Bond movie, From Russia With Love is great and a classic, would the Bond franchise have become the mega international behemoth it is now if, way back in 1964, the Bond people had just done another From Russia With Love? Probably not. Goldfinger makes everything about Bond and his secret agent adventures seem bigger than life. From Bond’s mission to find out what the hell Auric Goldfinger (Gert Forbe) is up to, to Odd Job’s deadly hat, to the whole “painting the woman gold so she will suffocate” thing, to Pussy Galore, it all just seems so different and livelier than the previous two movies. Goldfinger is also openly funnier than the two movies before it, something that would sustain the series for decades to come (if the previous movie was too serious they could always make the next one slightly lighter, because it always works until it doesn’t work anymore). And let’s not forget the brilliant “Goldfinger” song by Shirley Bassey, which set the tone for all future Bond themes. I’d like to see the next Bond, the one after Daniel Craig, try to go back to the lighter/breezier Bond, at least for one movie. I think that tone will work again. People still watch Goldfinger to this day. Why not give it another go?

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