Movie: **** out of 5
Video: **** 1/2
Article first published on Blogcritics.org
Over the years, it’s been clear that Johnnie To’s main inspiration is
Martin Scorsese. If you’re going to aspire, why not look up to the best,
right? The most surprising thing — at least probably for American
audiences — is that To has been directing since the ’70s. It wasn’t
until 2005’s Election that To came on our radar. Granted, the only other To film I’ve seen is 2012’s Drug War — which is excellent — but his new explosive thriller Three is a slow burn of the best kind.
Well Go USA can deliver some incredible looking discs — when afforded
the breathing room of a 50GB disc. The first thing I do before I pop in
a disc for review is flip it over to see what they’re working with.
Unfortunately, Three has been delegated to a 25GB, with the
expected anomaly wreaking havoc: banding. Thankfully, that’s about the
worst of the picture. The rest is crystal clear with tons of detail
causing some of the more gruesome moments to shine. Colors pop, just on
the edge of blooming, with crush never an issue as the entire film takes
place inside a brightly hospital.
Where things really shine — and makes one scratch their head even
more regarding the disc space — is the included Cantonese DTS:X audio
track. Downgraded to 7.1, this is a phenomenal mix with incredible
pinpoint detail. I can only imagine how much more lifelike it would be
with the additional speakers for it to play with. Or a bigger disc to
hold it. As it stands, even the most seemingly mundane scene is filled
with an active soundscape. And it ramps up even more during the big
finale. This being where the bass also finally kicks in. A Cantonese 2.0
Stereo track, along with English and Chinese subtitles are also
Considering the disc size, it’s a good thing the special features are
scant. A “Making Of” is broken up into two sections: “Master Director
Johnnie To” (2:30) and “Three Complex Characters” (3:12). Here, things
are swift as the cast talk about themselves, their characters, and
working under director To. They’re quick to point out that first
impressions may seem like he has a temper, but as he gets to know the
cast and crew things get more playful and relaxed. They also point out
that To likes to do on set script revisions, something that could be
looked down on, but at least they’re coming from the director and not
maddening studio head demands. The film’s trailer (1:10) is available,
along with previews for Cold War II (available now), Sky on Fire, and Operation Mekong (both available in June).
Action fans are always going to get what they want when they watch a Johnnie To film. With Three,
they just may want to know that it takes a bit longer to get to the
goods here. Even with the film running a mere 88 minutes, the final 15
tear down the house. The shootout is one for the books and can only be
described as stepping right into the middle of a 360-degree war zone. Ho
Leung Lau, Tin Shu Mak, and Nai-Hoi Yau’s screenplay stretches the
tension to the breaking point, and its balls out until the credits roll.
Aside from Zhao’s annoying Dr. Qian getting in the way dramatically
here and there, Three is an action film that will leave no one
dissatisfied. With almost stellar video, and exemplary audio, the
technical aspects — and the finale which has to be seen to be believed —
make this one a blind-buy no brainer.