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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Current Cinema - Barrie Pattison tracks down Johnnie To's THREE

Watching new Johnnie To films has become a duty. It looks like Where A Good Man Goes and Mad Detective are going to be the best we get out of him but his new film Three is intriguing for movie enthusiasts, for it’s distance from the familiar models - Hollywood, Bollywood, the Euro Art Movie and those pondering melodramas being shot on the mainland. It can be seen as the heir to the kung fu film. To goes back to the excellent The Big Heat in the eighties and beyond.

It’s a cop movie entirely set in Hong Kong's Victoria Hospital. After some gory close ups of drilling into skulls in the operating room, we get into the plot of  shot criminal Wallace Chung being wheeled into Emergency handcuffed to his gurney.

Dr. Vickie Wei Zhao (Shaolin Soccer, Red Cliff) is already under fire from a patient. He spits on her and calls her “Rubbish Doctor” and her success rate doesn’t improve. She’s at odds with To regular, stony faced officer Louis Koo, who she feels is treating Chung inhumanely. Doctor and cop get into conflict over Chung’s demand for the ‘phone call that he is entitled to, with the patient quoting the Hippocratic Oath to her (in English) and her decision there provokes another calamity  - on speaker ‘phone as they hear Koo call to his team, in the middle of a robbery. Good Scene.

While this is happening, the crazy in the next bed gets away from his restraints complaining about his treatment, Lam is trying to find the Suit Conspirator who whistles classical music and the key to his hand cuffs is missing.

Finale is a large scale shoot out in slow motion - impressive moment when the moving camera comes through the ward doors and the action switches to normal speed and the sound of gunfire and panic.

The ending with the leads suspended on a knotted sheet rope and the vindictive patient crashing down stairs in his wheel chair, strips most of the undertaking’s dignity but by then there’s been enough kinetic action to more than satisfy the target audience.

It might get another week and will be all over Chinatowns in DVDs at varying prices.

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