Three... Extremes II

[a.k.a. Three]
Dir: Kim Jee-woon, Nonzee Nimibutr, Peter Ho-Sun Chan
Star: Jeong Bo-seok, Suwinit Panjamawat, Leon Lai, Eric Tsang

This actually predates Three... Extremes, but didn't get any significant Western release until afterward (likely because the directors here are much less well known), so they slapped a title on which makes it look like a sequel. It makes absolutely no difference, since none of the stories here bear any relation to the other anthological trilogy: it does share the same sense of disappointment, however, with two of the three stories being too slight to generate more than a vague sense of creepiness. We start with Memories in which a man (Jeong) tries to remember what happened the day his wife left him. Meanwhile, she is wandering around suffering from amnesia of her own, and unable to get anyone to pay attention to her. We spotted exactly where this was going about five minutes in, and thereafter, were waiting for the second part to show up. The Wheel wasn't much of an improvement, a story from Thailand about cursed puppets, and the horrible fate that befalls those who steal them. I think Nnzee Nimibutr must be an assumed name for Charles Band.

The final story is the only one that had enough substance to stick with us. Going Home sees Wai (Tsang) and his son move into an apartment building, inhabited by a selection of strange individuals. His young son strikes up a friendship with a strange little girl from the apartment opposite, but when the child goes missing, the apartment owner, a traditional medicine specialist called Tu (Lai), denies all knowledge, both of Wai's son and the girl. Wai suspects there's something up, but on entering the flat, discovers the true nature of Yu's secret. Let's just say, there's good reason for a lot of incense being burned. Unfortunately, Yu discovers Wai, and handcuffs him to the furniture to ensure he can't leave, because things have reached a very delicate stage. It's an idea that could easily have been expanded to a full feature, but works very nicely at the length it has here, with a genuine sense of development, in both story and characters, almost from the first scene to its last. It's probably the best of the six stories across the two films, but it isn't enough to save what's otherwise mostly tired and predictable.

[January 2015]

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