title comes from a truncated Confucius quote regarding humility that sort of
works in the original Cantonese Chinese context. In Western markets, it vaguely
seems to relate to the central trio of characters, whose pride most likely will
cometh before a fall. However, knowing fan favorite Lam Suet has a considerable
supporting role will probably be much more interesting to American audiences
than the participation of C-pop star Wallace Chung, especially considering this
is a Johnnie To film. Although it is smaller in scope than his gangster
classics, To still delivers the goods in Three
which opens this Friday in New York.
has been a bad day for Dr. Tong Qian —and it will soon get far worse. She has
had a string of unfortunate surgeries, including the now partially paralyzed
young man, who constantly berates her whenever she walks through the recovery
ward. Of course, she is hardly the sort of doctor to admit a mistake. This is
all beside the point to her latest hard case patient.
Inspector Chen hoped his prisoner would never make it to the hospital. That
bullet wound to the head was no accident. Yet, in a freakish turn of fate, the
bullet became precariously lodged in the perp’s skull. The prognosis would be
decent if he would consent to surgery, but the armed robber refuses. Instead,
he bides his time fully conscious, waiting for his gang to break him loose.
Inspector Chen figures they are coming, but they are actually already there.
Three isn’t Election or Drug War or
[insert your favorite Johnnie To movie here], but it is a lean and mean, finely
tuned thriller machine. It also further demonstrates To’s ability to get the
best out of HK superstar Louis Koo, who broods like a monster as the hard-nosed
but slightly neurotic Inspector Chen. Vicki Zhao Wei really plays against type,
out-angsting Koo as the insecure doctor with the sub-par bedside manner. Chung
chews the scenery with cinematic glee, more than exceeding expectations, but
Lam Suet makes the film as the sad sack member of Chen’s task force. He starts out
as comic relief, but gets serious as a heart attack in the second act.
Any HK thriller set in a hospital is bound to
bring to mind John Woo’s Hard Boiled,
but To goes for more of an intimate Desperate
Hours kind of vibe, pulling it off quite nicely. Still, he must be cognizant
of the echoes, since he throws in a Battleship
Potemkin reference for good measure. Regardless, it all adds up to a lot of
fun. Recommended for fans of the action auteur and his big name cast, To’s Three opens this Friday (6/24) in New
York, at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Johnnie To, Lam Suet, Louis Koo, Zhao Wei