Three (2002)

Three [三更] (2002)
AKA Three Extremes II

Starring Jung Bo-Seok, Kim Hye-Soo, Panjamawat Suwinit, Leon Lai, Eric Tsang, Eugenia Yuen

Directed by Kim Jee-Woon (Memories), Nonzee Nimibutr (The Wheel), Peter Chan (Going Home)

Expectations: Moderate. Good talent involved.


Three isn’t a cohesive movie unto itself, nor is it a true anthology film with a framing story, instead it’s just three 40-minute shorts sandwiched together. This makes reviewing it as a whole rather hard because each short was made by a completely different team, working in completely different countries. Nothing ties the stories together (other than being stretched definitions of horror), so I guess I’ll follow suit and treat each film as its own thing.

Up first is Kim Jee-Woon’s Memories, a tale of a man who doesn’t know where his wife is, and his wife who’s lost her memory and is trying to get back home. Memories is painfully boring, and while it starts off with a great image of a sleeping man haunted by a huddled, shadowed woman, a balloon and a child’s doll, Memories does almost nothing with the elements at hand. Up until the last few minutes I wouldn’t even call it a horror movie, unless the psychological pain of losing someone counts as horror now.

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Wu Xia (2011)

Wu Xia [武術] (2011)
AKA Dragon, Swordsmen

Starring Donnie Yen, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Tang Wei, Zheng Wei, Li Jia-Min, Jimmy Wang Yu, Kara Hui, Yin Zhu-Sheng, Chun Hyn, To Ning

Directed by Peter Chan

Expectations: High, but still guarded.


It’s all in the title. By titling this tale by the name of an entire genre of film, the filmmakers involved immediately acknowledge that this is something of an homage. Of course, it’s an homage to wuxia films, specifically The One-Armed Swordsman and films of its vintage that came out of the Shaw Brothers studio. While Wu Xia does not take its cues directly from any one film, there are many elements at work here that would fit in beautifully to a late ’60s Shaw Brothers flick, so for someone like me who’s doing his own homage in review form, this is like a direct I.V. of awesome.

Donnie Yen plays Liu Jin-Xi, a paper maker in a small village. One day working on some paper windows, a couple of thugs enter the shop and demand money from the owner. Liu cowers in fear behind a counter until he decides to take action and do whatever he can to stop the violent outbursts of the two men. As a martial arts fan this scene is somewhat disappointing because we all know Donnie Yen is a total badass, but he spends most of the fight just holding on to the one guy’s midsection. Despite this, the fight is fun, although it gave me a bad feeling that Wu Xia would be yet another modern Hong Kong film where a martial arts star is placed into the role of a man who does not know, and does not over the course of the film learn, martial arts. So let me just say this: keep watching. You will be rewarded.

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