Johnnie To's THREE
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
We don't see a lot of action movies that take place in a Hong Kong hospital ward. Those that revolve around an intense but human neurosurgeon (Vicky Zhao) are even fewer and far between.
Despite a convoluted and somewhat hackneyed ticking-clock plot THREE is an engaging action flick that makes up for its weaknesses with great performances, expertly detailed production values, and some crowd-pleasing action sequences.
The story: Into Zhao's ward one very bad day comes a crook (Wallace Chung) with a bullet lodged in his brain. The cops led by Louis Koo bring him in. The ticking clock: the bad guy's partners in crime are coming to rescue him. Chung delays the complex brain surgery Zhao says is critical to his survival. The questions are when and how, given that he's under a 24 hour armed guard, the rescue party will get there. The movie then becomes a long setup for the action sequence we know is coming -- and which does NOT disappoint.
As with many hospital films and TV shows we also get a collection of side characters who provide incidental drama, humor, and coincidence. They're all well done, especially the nutty patient (Lo Hoi-pang) who occupies the next bed over from Chung. We also get lots of camera movement, very tight editing, and nicely detailed sound work that overcome what might otherwise be a claustrophobic set. THREE is definitely worth your time.
Review copyright (c) 2017 by Dennis D. McDonald. A leter version of this review ran in aNewDomain here.