Wednesday, October 17, 2007

TRIANGLE: A 3-in-One Experiment

TRIANGLE (crime thriller)

Cast: Simon Yam, Louis Koo, Kelly Lin and Sun Honglei
Directors: Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam and Johnny To
Time: 95 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

(Pic: Yam, Sun and Koo)
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? Some time ago, Hong Kong film-maker Tsui Hark came up with an interesting idea for a movie: How about doing a crime thriller and having it helmed separately by three famous directors, each putting his own stamp on his segment? For this, Tsui Hark called upon his buddies, Ringo Lam and Johnny To (from the old TVB days 30 years ago) and the result is "Triangle", a dark comic-thriller that fans of "Kill Bill" movies can relate to.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Tsui Hark set the ball rolling late last summer, opening his segment with a story about three down-and-out friends meeting at a pub to plan a jewellery heist for the triads. Cabbie Fai (played by Louis Koo) needs money to pay off his mother's debts; former rally driver Boo Sam (Simon Lam) and antiques dealer Mok (Sun Honglei) are also deeply in debt themselves. One hit and all their money troubles will be history, the trio figure. However, before they can get down to the nitty-gritty, a mysterious guy offers them another deal: to retrieve some Tang dynasty 'treasure' buried in the HK Legislative Council toilet - and make much more for themselves in terms of loot.
Of course, Tsui Hark throws in some plot complications for the two directors: Boo Sam's wife (Kelly Lin) is having an affair with a cop named Wen (Lam Ka-tung) and they are both stalking Boo Sam and his friends; and Fai may be in cahoots with Wen, or he may have been forced to do the cop's bidding. Whatever they are, the chief ingredients like greed, passion, adultery and betrayal are all in play.
The second segment, reportedly helmed by Ringo Lam, concentrates on the humour and action, including a crazy car ride and an offbeat unravelling of Wen's affair with Boo Sam's wife. However, instead of fleshing out the characters properly, Lam makes them even more enigmatic and complex. He also sets up a few twists in the plot for the third act.
Then it is up to Johnny To to wrap things up. However, if you are expecting him to tie up all the loose ends, you have another thing coming. To throws in a comedy of errors - mostly played out at a ramshackle seaside restaurant where all the characters congregate for the grand finale, including a wayside mechanic high on Ecstasy pills. Yes, in typical To fashion, bullets fly in the dark, the gold treasure gets passed from one to another, and the lights come on and off, all in a bewildering, surrealistic climax.

HITS & MISSES: Does this three-in-one experiment work? Do we leave the cineplex feeling satisfied with the cinematic style and substance provided by Hong Kong's maverick directors? Well, it all depends on what you want from this movie. It is certainly a novelty - something different from what you usually get from each of the directors if they were to do the movie entirely by themselves.

THE LOWDOWN: I am no fan of all the three, so I would rather see "Triangle" as a spoof on pulp fiction thrillers. That way, I would feel sane laughing at the silly twists and turns - and look upon the narrative as a seamless tale, not some rotten broth made by three chefs.


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