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Original Title:
Tie saam gok

Hong Kong 2007

Crime, Action

Tsui Hark
Ringo Lam
Johnnie To

Simon Yam
Louis Koo
Sun Honglei
Gordon Lam Ka Tung
Kelly Lin
You Yong
Lam Suet
Li Haitao

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Story: Sam (Simon Yam) doesn't have an easy life. He desperately has to make some money, but he refuses the offer of his buddy Fai (Louis Koo) to be the driver in a jewelry theft, since the antique dealer Mok (Sun Honglei) dissuades him from ruining his life. However, all three of them start to get curious when a stranger gives them a gold coin and provides them with information about a treasure under the Legislative Council building.
While Sam, Fai and Mok plan their big coup, corrupt cop Wen (Gordon Lam) is on their tracks. Wen doesn't only put Fai under pressure to deliver him the group of jewelry robbers on a silver plate, but he also wants to get his hands on Sam and Mok. Furthermore, Wen also has an affair with Sam's wife Ling (Kelly Lin) for some years already, while Ling fears that her husband wants to kill her. For this reason Sam gets observed, but Wen still doesn't manage to prevent the robbery of the treasure under the Legislative Council building. Now, Wen himself wants to get into possession of the treasure, which is worth several millions. Moreover, Sam, Fai and Mok fear that they might get betrayed by one of their friends, which is why they also have an especially watchful eye on each other. Can their brotherhood oevercome their greed or will the treasure cost their lives, eventually?

Review: Hong Kong's elite of directors, Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam and Johnnie To, come together for this work to create a joint production, which is nothing less than a present for any Milkyway fan, that production company, which delivered several great HK-flix in the past. What's so special about this movie is, that the three directors didn't work on the movie at the same time, but that every one of them took over one part of the film, while the next director started off where the former left. Which is where the problems begin, as the different visions of a movie don't add up to a convincing whole. Which leads to the fact that "Triangle" is actually quite inconsistent. Some of the characters change their behavior in such a radical way, that you might think you are sitting in a completely different movie all of a sudden. That brings us to the question: Is "Triangle" a cinematic disappointment? It depends. For all those who expected a real masterpiece, this may be the case, but for everyone else "Triangle" proves to be a stylish movie from three of the greatest directors out there, who manage to deliver one of the most entertaining movies coming out of Hong Kong for years.

Tsui Hark starts off and gives us a well done introduction into the movie, which instantly familiarizes us with the different characters and drags us right into the film. The bond between the three drinking buddies Sam, Fai and Mok is an interesting one, especially since it's not easy for us at the beginning to decide what to think of them. Ling believes that her husband Sam wants to kill her, while cop Wen has an affair with her and blackmails Fai to turn a group of mainland Chinese juwelry robbers over to him. This introduction of the different parties shall prove to be important later on, even though there is already some entanglement and encounters between them at the start. Anyway, it's a fact that the first thirty minutes already manage to capture the viewer with tension-filled moments and interesting characters. Moreover, it's unusual that the three "thieves" already succeed in getting their hands on the treasure during the first part. But then again, this is just where all the problems start, because mistrust between the three starts to get the upper hand, and that's just where we get aware how little they actually know about each other.

The next thirty minutes are Ringo Lam's ("Full Alert"), who to his fans' delight returns into the director's chair after taking a break for the last few years. Lam thankfully dives more into the depths of the protagonists' souls and gives the movie a new level by this. His character-explorative tendency to continue the film also proves to be a little problem, though, since the different individuals somehow suddenly seem different compared to what we've seen from them during the first third. This becomes especially apparent when it comes to Ling, who was a paranoid, terrified woman, and suddenly becomes a fearless fury. Simon Yam's role also seems a bit different, now. It's a good thing that the movie's focus shifts more to Sam's background story revolving around his dead wife and his new love story with Ling, but there is only little continuity to be seen concerning the character traits of the involved individuals. Furthermore, there are also some experimental and unusual, even artistic insertions, e.g. Ling's sudden small dance performance, which just don't want to fit into the rest of the film.
Still, Lam succeeds in keeping up a high tension, by letting the protagonists run into more and more problems as they follow the path that unfolds before them.

Even though we actually might have feel amused by the incredible coincidences and the bad fortune that always strikes at our heroes, bringing them into more and more trouble, all because of the treasure they got, we only get aware of the fact that the treasure might actually be cursed during the last third. Johnnie To ("Election", "Exiled") is responsible for the final chapter and he brings it on screen with a good amount of irony and some buddhist concepts. Karma is playing a big role, as well as brotherhood, trust and justice. To almost entirely breaks with everything that has come before and presents us with an isolated segment, which, however, has still several links to what we've seen the past hour. This feeling of an isolated segment is intensified by the fact that To makes his work look like a comedic stage play which almost takes place at just one location. And with all due respect to the other directors, it also becomes pretty apparent that To is the most talented among the director involved in this work.

The showdown takes place at a small roofed restaurant, at which the different parties, all of them brought there by their own reasons, clash in best western manner. The scenes in which the conflicting parties face each other, the calm before the storm when they reconsider their options, and the black humor that also plays into the hands of these scenes, is just typical To-stuff and as tension-filled as ever. Those moments surely are adrenaline-loaden, but they are also incredibly funny at times. Or at least amusing. With a wink To lets all the conincidences play out to his favor, thus creating the element of eternal justice in the form of karma, and he joins all of the film's story threads in an intense finale. May it be the swoping of some bags, or the thrilling and stylistically very well done shoot-out in the high grass of a nearby field, To proves that he absolutely knows how to please his fans. To make things even more worthwhile, there is also a nice and somehow even unexpected ending.

In the end, because of its inconsistency, "Triangle" just has to come as a strange viewing experience. The directors' work falls short of the concept that stood behind the film, since they didn't work as a team. Despite all that, "Triangle" is still a well done movie, that can score with great cinematography, a good thrilling atmosphere and some nice action sequences. A fantastic soudtrack by Guy Zerafa (would somebody please finally release the great compositions of this artist on CD?!), and impressive, charismatic actors, even concerning the supporting cast (we have You Yong as a police man or Lam Suet as a lunatic) complete the nice overall picture.
"Triangle" is a present to all the HK-movie fans out there, and despite the obvious flaws, it's most likely the most entertaining film out of Hong Kong for years. A movie you shouldn't miss!

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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