EmptyIf you were lucky enough to get three master chefs to fix dinner, logically you would ask each to prepare a different course. But in "Triangle," a movie produced and directed by three Hong Kong masters of action and intrigue -- Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam and Johnnie To -- everyone is working on the same dish.
Is it any wonder then that the result, which screened Out of Competition, is the cinematic equivalent of an inedible mess where ingredients war with one another and no one has paid any attention to the poor fellow who must consume the meal?
This meal is best served to tolerant cognoscenti of Hong Kong cinema, who may be amused by the jumble of characters and scenes that resemble a Coming Attraction more than a coherent film. Which means "Triangle" has audiences in pockets all over the world but may test the patience of all but the most avid fans.
The directors explain the only way these strong-minded individuals could figure out how to work on the same project together was to create a "serial." Each tackles an act of the story with the other two not allowed to intervene with that work, no matter what it does to the story's continuity.
So Hark in Act One establishes a tale about a heist of buried treasure from a government building by three down-on-their-luck pals. These would be Fai (Louis Koo), Sam (Simon Yam) and Mok (Sun Hong Lei). He jams the story with all sorts of poorly introduced characters and shoots in a fast, slick style with rapid edits, odd angles and a quick pace heightened by music.
But what's the treasure? Well, that's Lam's problem.
Lam unveils a burial robe made with gold lifted from an ancient coffin. Mok, who deals with antiques, declares it to be worth a fortune. But Lam gets distracted from the heist story by Sam's wife, a woman he married because she resembles his first wife who died in a tragic car accident. She is having an affair with a cop, but Sam has grown suspicious. His obsession with this betrayal threatens the success of the heist.
For his part, To just wants to have fun. Cops, gangsters and assorted oddballs chase after the burial robe in a mad scramble in a remote countryside. Things get so screwy that Sam's wife is brutally hit by a car, but within minutes she is munching on a sandwich while complaining about being tired.
The audience knows how she feels: The movie runs you over and tires you out without doing anything truly clever or interesting. The thing barely passes muster as a pastiche of Hong Kong cinema as "Triangle" is too nonsensical and incoherent to engage a viewer on any but the visual level.
Cinematography, stunts, editing and production design are all superb. Too bad none of these master directors was operating at the top of his game.
Milkyway Image/Media Asia Films/Beijing Polybona Film Distribution
Directors-producers: Johnny To, Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam
Screenwriters: Half Leisure, Sharon Chung, Kenny Kan, Yau Nai Hoi, Au Kin Yee, Yip Tin Shing
Director of photography: Cheng Siu Keung
Production designers: Raymond Chan, Tony Yu
Music: Guyn Zerafa
Costume designers: Stanley Cheung, William Fung
Editor: David Richardson
Ah-Fai: Louis Koo
Bo Sam: Simon Yam
Mok Chung Yuen: Sun Hong Lei
Wen: Lam Ka Tung
Ling: Kelly Lin
Running time -- 101 minutes
No MPAA rating