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"I have an itch..."     

Two images from Three: Memories (left) and Going Home (right).
Year: 2002
Director: Kim Jee-Woon, Nonzee Nimbutr, Peter Chan Ho-Sun
Cast: Kim Hye-Soo, Jung Bo-Seog, Moon Jung-Hee, Park Hee-Soon, Jang Jung-Won, Choi Jung-Woo, Lee Hyung-Kwon, Jee Sung-Kuen, Komgrich Yuttiyong, Pongsanart Vinsin, Kanyavee Chatjawalpreecha, Pattama Jangjarut, Suwinit Panjamawat, Leon Lai Ming, Eric Tsang Chi-Wai, Li Ting-Fung, Eugenia Yuan Lai-Kei, Lau Tsz-Wing
  The Skinny: A true PanAsian film, this horror anthology boasts terrific production values and atmosphere to spare. While the stories range in quality, the overall effect is one of artful, intelligent horror.
by Kozo:

     Horror goes PanAsian with Three, a multi-region horror anthology from some of the top talents in Asia. The film features three (duh) stories which are presented in distinctly different ways. And while the quality of the three parts varies, the result is still artful, intelligent horror which should appeal to most fans of the current Asian horror wave.
     Director Kim Jee-Woon (The Foul King, The Quiet Family) leads things off with Memories, a spare chiller about a husband (Jung Bo-Seog) who's having visions of his wife's possible demise. Meanwhile, said wife (Kim Hye-Soo) wakes up in a deserted street with apparently no memory of who she is or how she ended up there. She proceeds to follow whatever clues she can to find her way home, while her husband's visions begin to get darker and darker.
     Kim tells his story with in a spare, quiet manner, and relies on meticulous cinematography and stark composition to unnerve his audience. The atmosphere is not unlike most Japanese horror, and the story is certainly chilling. What's interesting here is that the story serves no real purpose for the characters. Everything about Memories is designed for audience (mis)information, and Kim takes his time getting there. But the payoff - no matter how expected or even prosiac it may be - feels genuinely haunting.
     Story two is The Wheel, from director Nonzee Nimbutr (Nang Nak, Jan Dara). It tells the story of cursed puppets, which belong to renowned Thai pupeteers called Hun Lakom Lek. Their life is an envied and prosperous one, and so their puppets are said to be cursed such that anyone who covets them will meet a terrible fate. This is especially true for Khon performers, masked street performers who perform much of the same tales, but live in poverty. When an old trunk of the prized puppets falls into the hands of a Khon performer Kru Tong (Pongsanart Vinsin), he plans to use them to enhance his life.
     However, the curse is in full effect and everybody pays, to put it mildly. Greed and jealousy doom those who come in contact with the puppets, and the ultimate journey is one of sinking doom. Nimbutr loads his film with rich cultural detail and sweaty cinematography, but The Wheel provides little more than a front-row seat to watch Nimbutr's various unlikable characters do themselves in. The knowledge that everything will go to hell seems obvious from minute one, and without characters to like, their losses come off as abject lessons and nothing more. The Wheel is certainly interesting, but it's also the weakest of Three's stories.
     On the other hand, Peter Chan's Going Home provides character in spades, and features some fine acting from Hong Kong Cinema regulars. Eric Tsang is policeman Wai, who moves into a rundown apartment with son Cheung (Li Ting-Fung). Cheung soon goes missing, however, and Wai suspects neighbor Yu Fai (Leon Lai). No wonder; Yu Fai is a dour mainlander who keeps to himself because his wife is supposedly paralyzed. However, when Wai breaks into Yu Fai's apartment, he discovers that her diagnosis is slightly incorrect. And more, he becomes Yu Fai's temporary - and unwilling - guest.
     Having Going Home anchor Three was a smart move, as it's easily the most emotionally compelling of the three films. The film contains actual characters that test audience sympathy; Yu Fai may be the designated bad guy, but he becomes a much more sympathetic - and likable - character than "good guy" Wai. The revelations behind Going Home are weighed down by too much exposition, but Chan's efficient direction and Christopher Doyle's exquisite cinematography (Is there a cinematographer who can use color better than Christopher Doyle?) make everything easier to swallow. Going Home ranks as the best of the three films as it actually manages to tell a story, and doesn't just explore a chosen theme or narrative style.
     The three films of Three don't tie together in any way, a fact emphasized by the film's DVD release: a three-disc box set with one film per disc. If you want to, you can watch them in any sequence, as there's really no compelling reason (other than the obligatory opening title and end credits) to watch the films in their theatrical order. Three isn't truly that scary, and is even somewhat slight, but the fine atmosphere, intelligent filmmaking, and excellent production values make it a worthy experience. (Kozo 2002)


22nd Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
Winner - Best New Artist (Eugenia Yuan)
Nomination - Best Picture
Nomination - Best Director (Peter Chan Ho-Sun)
Nomination - Best Actor (Leon Lai Ming)
Nomination - Best Screenplay (Jojo Hui and Matthew Chow Hoi-Kwong)
• Nomination - Best Cinematography (Christopher Doyle)
Nomination - Best Editing (Kwong Chi-Leung)
Nomination - Best Art Direction (Yee Chung-Man)
Nomination - Best Original Film Score (Cho Sung-Woo, Peter Kam Pui-Tak)
Nomination - Best Sound Effects (Sunit Asyinikul)
39th Annual Golden Horse Awards
Winner - Best Actor (Leon Lai Ming)
• Winner - Best Cinematography (Christopher Doyle)
Nomination - Best Picture
Nomination - Best Director (Peter Chan Ho-Sun)
Nomination - Best Editing (Kwong Chi-Leung)
Nomination - Best Art Direction (Yee Chung-Man)
Nomination - Best Make-Up and Costume Design (Dora Ng Lei-Lo)
9th Annual Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards
Best Director (Peter Chan Ho-Sun)
Recommended Film
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 1-6 NTSC
Panorama Entertainment
3-Disc Box Set
Cantonese/Thai/Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
images courtesy of Panorama Distributions Co., Ltd. Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen