In claustrophobic crime thriller Three, director Johnnie To is determined to keep you guessing; scenes often appear bizarre until their true meaning is revealed, and the script keeps its cards close to its chest. Smartly confining action to one hospital, To carefully drip-feeds information about the shootout that led to the injury of Wallace Chung’s unnamed criminal. This makes an already-sharp thriller feel even tighter, as the pressure builds up on the ward and threatens to blow.
While the film is undeniably stylish, it’s certainly not without substance; the three leads all play with their responsibilities to themselves and those around them – even when it puts their own futures at risk. Wallace Chung is a real highlight, offering a performance oozing with cunning, stealing the show out from under the other characters as he soliloquises from his hospital bed.
That isn’t to say this is a one-man show; Zhao Wei deftly balances stoicism and vulnerability as a conflicted neurosurgeon, and Louis Koo’s police officer in charge of the case prowls through the ward like a caged lion, ready to explode if given the chance. The film is a perfect three-hander, as these big characters manipulate each other to their own ends. Tension builds up just as the film’s puzzle pieces start slotting together – and you won’t be disappointed in the bigger picture that is revealed, even if the song that plays in the climactic finale is a tad on the nose.
The final crescendo is almost too stylised, but it feels well-earned after how smoothly it has been set up. Ultimately Three is an impressive thriller with a gory streak – To revels in the nauseating surgery visuals – that manages to be both cerebral and action-packed.
CAST: Louis Koo, Wei Zhao, Wallace Chung, Suet Lam
DIRECTOR: Johnnie To
WRITERS: Ho Leung Lau, Tin Shu Mak & Nai-Hoi Yau
SYNOPSIS: In hospital, a thug claims human rights to refuse surgery in order to bide time for his underlings to rescue him. The detective in charge sees through his scheme but decides to play along so as to capture his whole gang once and for all.