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Original Title:
San Geng

South Korea/Thailand/Hong Kong 2002


Kim Ji-woon
Nonzee Nimibutr
Peter Chan

Kim Hye-su
Jeong Bo-seok
Suwinit Panjamawat
Leon Lai
Eric Tsang
Eugenia Yuan
Li Ting-Fung

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Story: Memories is about a man, who lost his memory of what had happened to his wife. A while ago she just dissappeared without a trace and no one has been able to find her. However, in fact she also lost her memory and wanders through the empty streets of the town looking for clues to her true identity and her home, while her husband is haunted by terrible nighmares already thinking of the worst concerning his wife's fate...

The Wheel tells the story of a wealthy puppeteer with the name Hun Lakom Le, who suddenly dies leaving his puppets without an owner. Kru Tong, leader of a local actors group, who prefers real acting with masks over that with puppets, knows of the puppets and wants to take his hands on them, because he expects becoming wealthy with them. As the group around Kru knows, a curse lies among the puppets and soon evil makes its way into this world...

In Going Home policeman Wai (Eric Tsang) along with his son Cheung rents a flat in a run-down apartment building. Shortly after moving into his new home Cheung suddenly disappears. Wai suspects his neighbor who lives together with his paralyed wife, to have something to do with it. When Wai sneaks into his neighbor's flat he gets attacked by him and becomes unconscious.
As a prisonder Wai soon finds out, that his neighbor has in fact nothing to do with his son's disappearance, but that he is nonetheless a lunatic, because he washes his dead wife's body in herbal baths every day, in order to revive her three years after her death...

Review: "Three" is a collaboration of Korean, Thai and Chinese (Hong Kong) moviemakers. Or in other words, all three of them made a short film on their own for this trilogy that are in no way connected to one another except for the fact that they are all about ghosts. However, that's also a sore point as it would have been nice to see the seperate storys having a cross-over at the end. At least one could have given them an uniform theme or a subject which is present in all of the movies.

The trilogy starts with "Memories" from director Kim Ji-Woon, who isn't a no-name since "The Quiet Family", anymore. His work is quite somber providing some very good camera angles. The most shock effects of the trilogy can be found in this part, giving us the chills more than once, like we learned to love it from Asian horror movies. Especially, the music and sound effects are over the top and add a lot to the tense and gloomy atmosphere. There are also some artistic tricks like fast cutting, leaving some motions out of a scene, in order to rise the tension bar.
The way of storytelling is quite good. At the beginning we nearly don't know anything, but with time there are more and more key scenes thrown at us, with which we are supposed to unriddle the whole story requiring a little bit of effort concerning interpreting, until we finally get a well done resolving at the end, although not a shocking one as the attentive viewer could already foresee it.
Unluckily, the way the story is told hinders us from sympathizing with the individual characters and so the viewer always has some distance to the events.

"The Wheel" is a enormous cut into the trilogy. May it be the just too big cultural gap that seperates us from the traditions of Thailand, or more likely the style the movie was made in- the thai contribution is far the worst and in my opinion could have easily been left out as no one would have cared anyway.
Along the whole short film you can't put yourself in any of the protagonist's place and the "horror" itself also looks really cheap. Bad lighting, an unsteady camera that is supposed to represent the "unknown something" and actors that cry into the camera. Somehow you would have thought that we have already surpassed this kind of standard but here "cheap horror" has its revival.
Apart from the oriental dances and the music, as well as the mask and the puppets the movie has nothing that could keep the viewer interested. Too bad, as we already know that Thailand can do better than that - just watch "Shutter".

A clear favorite is the movie from Hong Kong. "Going Home" starts slowly and serenely, but soon has your whole attention, keeping you interested until the very last. Mainly, that's due to the great actors. As we already saw some familiar faces in the other movies, Eric Tsang does stand out the most. His character hasn't that much in-depth, nonetheless he easily manages with his charm to draw the audience on his side.
Peter Chan's work is far less creepy than the other two movies, nevertheless provides some good shocking moments and most of all shines with a great picture. And for that no one else than Christopher Doyle is to be held responsible.

The story of "Going Home" slowly unfolds and is very well done. Actually, Chan's movie is more of a romantic drama with a good portion of a psychological thriller, always managing to be thrilling and moving at the same time. In the end there is a surprising resolution, that nearly brings tears to your eyes. However, there is enough free space for interpretations. Unfortunately, some of the events and questions are left unanswered which is kind of sad.
Nonetheless, this doesn't change the fact that "Going Home" is the highlight of the trilogy which is rightly so put at the end of the compilation, and that can remain in the viewers head for quite some time.

At the bottom line, "Three" is a well done horror short film collection, which' only flaw is "The Wheel". Since every short story is about 40 minutes, there is enough entertainment left, even when (or especially when) you skip the thai movie. The only question that remains is why Japan didn't participate in this project? Luckily, this should change in the "sequel".
Fans of intelligent horror movies that offer great pictures, which rather play with the subconscious fears and horror, than showing lots of blood and violence, will not be disappointed by "Three".

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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