San ren xing (2016)
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Three is an intriguing, some might say enigmatic, film from Johnny To, that takes place in the neurology ward of a Hong Kong hospital. Like, I don't think I've ever seen this much brain surgery on film before. The "three" of the title each, in their own way, hold people's lives in their hands. There's the cop played by Louis Koo, who doesn't mind breaking the law to enforce the law. There's Zhao Wei (who I'll always remember as the Mulan stand-in in Red Cliff) as a neurosurgeon over-working herself. And there's Wallace Chung's mastermind criminal playing games with them all while refusing to let Wei take a bullet out of his head; people may well die at his command. But even if you think you can play God (and each of these characters does), you can't cheat Fate. Fate is an important force in many if not all of To's films and here it demands its karmic pound of flesh. In isolation, the slow-motion gun fight near the climax is a cool set piece, but I don't think I needed it. The first two acts, where you're just trying to figure things out, where everyone has an intense stare, is better, and the high-wire climax (a white line and a red line, that's gotta be something, right?) resolves the tension more than adequately. The characters must eventually yield to fortune or die.
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