HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:81
The slow-paced action thriller seems to be a genre that is slowly dying off. Usually there’s complete insanity with wall to wall action, or a more “indie” vibe that relegates the film to nothing but dialog. “Three” brings us back to those days with a well-crafted storyline that builds and builds to the obvious conclusion, and then simply DELIVERS on the action in every way shape and form. Even being an 88-minute film with an hour of slow and steady dramatic progression, it has the ability to grab at you and keep the viewer enthralled in the next step. Louis Koo plays a major part in that aspect, with the film relying very heavily on his dramatic abilities to keep the intensity up despite the lack of action until the end (where “Three” delivers the goods in a hyper stylized John Woo style shootout). It has some flaws and some minor nuances that are lost in the cultural translation), but is still an entertaining film that is one of the better Honk Kong films to come out in the last year or so.
The title “Three” really says it all. Three people inside of a Hong Kong hospital. One of them a cop (Louis Koo), one of them a criminal (Wallace Chung) and one a doctor (Vicki Zhao). Detective Ken has brought in a wounded criminal by the name of Shun into the hospital with a bullet wound. It seems that Shun shot himself to avoid being taken alive during a questioning and had the bullet pass through the side of his head leaving him in need of IMMEDIATE surgery. Doctor Tong Qian wants to operate immediately but Shun is refusing while he is still awake for some strange reason. Desperately trying her best to get Shun into the operating room, Dr. Qian is up against a brick wall from not only Shun, but the steely eyed detective too, who is more intent on getting the names of Shun’s accomplices than he is in having the criminal receive medical care.
As people move in and out, and cops lock down the floor, it’s OBVIOUS where this is going (the film doesn’t even try and hide it). Shun’s friends are more than dangerous and they’re coming for their boss (or at least that’s what Detective Ken is afraid of). The Detective tries to keep his location under wraps, even refusing Shun to make a phone call against the doctor’s wishes. However, good intentions plays a hand in the shootout to come when Dr. Qian stupidly lets the criminal make his call and ends up giving the accomplices the exact location of their boss. It’s only a matter of time before you know what breaks loose and the tension that’s been rising hits the boiling point.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94794[/img]“Three” is a twisted cat and mouse game between Ken and Shun, with the poor doctor caught in the middle of all the machinations. From the get go we get the impression that Shun is borderline psychotic and has been refusing treatment because he knows something that the other cops and staff don’t. However, it’s actually detective Ken who seems to be hiding the most. What starts out as a routine delivery of a criminal into the hospital turns out to be something more sinister as you realize that Ken is not as innocent in all of this as he seems (the gun in the food back makes it pretty obvious). The two men are squaring off, one taunting the other while the other hunkers down and prepares for the inevitable showdown that must certainly come. Poor Dr. Qian is the one caught in the middle and her good intentions (no matter how misinformed or misguided) acting as the catalyst for the final showdown.
The brunt of the work is on Louis Koo and Wallace Chun, as their interpersonal relationship during the movie is where we get most of the dramatic work. The pair plays off of each other well with Koo pulling his somber cop routine and Chung being just THIS short of maniacally, but incredibly craftily, unhinged. Director Johnnie To spins his web carefully throughout the 88 minute run time, gathering all of the proper players into the room and manipulating a large hospital emergency room into position for what turns out to be one of the most unique and stylistically pleasing shoot outs since John Woo and Chow Yun Fat were working together. Even WITH all of the dialog and “talky” nature of the first hour, To keeps the tension high and all that building up leads to a very satisfying conclusion at that.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94802[/img]“Three” is a visually striking movie that is really only marred by ONE single flaw in the encode. The stunning image is bright and cheery, with brilliant whites and impeccable color saturation. The hospital is dominated by the classic white and teal color palate, while the minimal shots outside of the emergency room take on a decidedly amber and brown hue. Facial detail is amazing, with every hair and fiber and fleck of lint visible on every person in the room. Long shots are shot with incredible clarity and there is nary a hint of softness to the transfer. Even the blacks are deep and inky with no signs of digital crush. Now, I did say that there was a flaw. That comes in the form of some banding that is intermittently available during the first 30-40 minutes, but gets progressively worse as the film goes on. Any time a teal or overly white background would pop up (look at the bathroom stall doors and walls) the banding would just pop right up and slap you in the face. Even in pitch black scenes, where you would most expect it, the banding was second to those instances of teal banding. It’s not HORRIBLE, but it is pretty blatantly obvious and otherwise knocks down a near perfect encode by a full star.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94810[/img]While the video was a near perfect picture with a nasty flaw, the audio is nothing short of perfection. Well Go USA has been getting more and more frequent with their next gen audio as of late. “Three” is given a stellar DTS:X track (DTS-HD MA 7.1 core for those without the equipment) in Cantonese (there’s no English track this time). The film is decidedly talky and reserved, but the DTS:X track makes full use of all channels by focusing in on nuanced use of shifting background sounds among the hospital staff. You can hear the creaking wheels of a wheelchair on the background, moving across the open floor, and the whispers and pages come from all angles. There’s even some decent use of the overheads when Detective Ken is standing over Shun. The shootout actually surprised me as there was not nearly as much overwhelming “action” bass as I was expecting. Gunshots carry punch and pop to them, but they don’t pound you over the head with it. Much of the LFE is reserved for the score and that has some VERY heavy duty weight to it. The end shootout is impeccably done, creating a 360 degree field of immersion that really puts you right in the heart of the slow motion chaos. Just amazing work by Well Go USA
• Making Of
“Three” is an unusual film with a great concept that ends up actually WORKING most of the time. There were a few side plots throughout the movie that felt superfluous (the fat cop trying to find the whistle blower), but overall “Three” delivered all of the goods it promised. The film is a decidedly laid back movie for the first 2/3-3/4, but once it gets going the end shootout makes the buildup sooooooo very much worth it. Audio is nothing short of perfection and the video track ALMOST makes it there as well (that banding just really hampered an otherwise flawless image), but the extras are a tad thing. Definitely worth a good watch.
Starring: Louis Koo, Wei Zhao, Wallace Chung
Directed by: Johnnie To
Written by: Nai-Hoi Yau
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: Cantonese: DTS:X, Cantonese DD 2.0
Studio: Well Go USA
Runtime: 88 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 4th, 2017
Buy Three On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Good Watch
More about Mike