Although Triangle premiered at Cannes film festival this year, it wasn’t until recently that we got a mainland China acceptable version into theaters around town. For all you non-Hong Kong action film fanbois and grlz out there, this film was a collaborative effort between Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam, and Johnny To, each one making one-third of the film, with the stipulation that there be mutual non-interference—each director does what they want with the story, according to their own style. The downside of this is that because it is a palimpsest, there’s a sense of discontinuity both in terms of plot and style. The upside is that you can, following hints found on Chinese film site Mtime, wonder if the three protagonists (see below) are loosely based on the personalities of the three directors themselves.
The story surrounds three down on their luck Hong Kong schmucks—Sam (Simon Yam), Fai (Louis Koo), and Mok (Sun Honglei), who have debts and shit lives until they mysteriously happen upon a map which locates a hidden ancient treasure, located deep in the foundations under a building. They have to trust each other enough to find the stuff and sell it, while trying to keep away from triads, gangsters, good cops, bad cops, and angry lovers who all want a piece of them as well as the treasure. Do they get the money? Does this solve their problems? Do they survive?
All pickiness and film snobbery aside, it’s not a bad ride—there are some decent car chases and atmospheric (if unrealistic) gun chases, and Hong Kong-esque humor, as well as some cheesy emotional scenes. When all is said and done, this film was perhaps more fun for the directors, who have known each other and been friends for 30 years, but have never worked together in this fashion, than for anyone else, including the bemused actors as well as those of us in the audience who hate always turning our heads to the person next to us and asking “So, uh, what the fuck just happened?”
This internet reviewer, we feel, said it best:
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.
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.
We’ll disagree there: it wasn’t so much “rotten” broth as it was lukewarm soup.
Picture from ent.tom.com.