Produced & directed by: Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam & Johnnie To
Down on their luck financially, Lee (Simon Yam), Fai (Louis Koo) and Mok (Sun Hong-Lei) has a fortune dropped right into their laps by a strange, old man during one rainy night. Giving them clues about a hidden treasure underneath the Legislative Council building, the trio goes to work and seemingly succeeds. But with cop Wen (Gordon Lam) in bed with Lee's wife (Kelly Lin), they too want a piece of the golden treasure. Fai also has triads breathing down his neck to take part in another robbery...
The angle of the project Triangle is decent and exciting enough without giving Hong Kong cinema fans the chills of a lifetime. Perhaps if the production had plucked directors Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam and Johnnie To at their utmost peaks (using a time machine to get the former two), then some sort of orgasmic wet dream could've occurred for us freaks out there. As it stands in the present, Tsui Hark is struggling to get back to his creative self, Ringo Lam returns to Hong Kong after admirable direct to video efforts starring a rejuvenated Jean-Claude Van-Damme (Replicant, In Hell) and Johnnie To... well, some sort of king-status in Hong Kong cinema is probably underscoring it for the co-founder of Milkyway. King of his own brand of crime- and gangster sagas and Triangle sees him playing tag team with his fellow directors. Directing a section each of the continuous 93 minute movie, Tsui Hark is given the pleasure of setting the stage. As one would guess, these are gentlemen with distinct style when placed within the context of Triangle and that's why this experiment is merely notable as an experiment, not as a premium heist-story hitting high's in every department Tsui, Lam and To concern themselves with.
If anything, Tsui Hark adheres to the Milkyway flavour stylistically with intense visuals, shadow-play and seemingly shadowy characters inhabiting the frame. Not much time is wasted and subsequently reserved for developing our trio of Lee/Fai/Mok and Tsui certainly presents a danger by placing us quickly in the midst of events that are eventually going to spiral in different directions (up, down and to the side one could argue). Tsui presents a solid outing. However he is not necessarily elevating a script but rather shooting it the way it's on the page. Characters are what they are (Yam's shadowy past concerning his prior and present wife, Louis Koo as the jittery loser Fai and the stone-cold antique dealer/brains Mok as portrayed by Sun Hong-Lei), do what they do and while the atmosphere is literally sweaty for reasons we will come to know, the heist scenario plays out without too much distinction. You do expect too much from Tsui Hark perhaps but he does trigger our curiosity going when the actual heist goes easy, in the way he injects a little humour within the framework of this trio being amateurs and possible tension that will grow between them as that pesky issue of trust when money is at the forefront takes center stage in the form of the neatly directed camera-scene.
Somewhere around here, Ringo Lam takes over and you really get some "value" out of the fact that Triangle is a co-directed mess but how could it not be? I still call for this all being an experiment so why not bring your own rather than adhering to exactly what the prior team member performed as. While Lam does punch nicely in the action department with a brief car chase, painful stunts and surprising violence, there's more of a focus on the timid/steely/mentally unstable antics of Simon Yam who will have a confrontation with his wife within this episode. Aspects like action have neatly ignited the film at this point but Lam can't make the material smoothly switch to become actually emotional. It's fully solid technically and Lam's third of Triangle goes by but when you reach Johnnie To's playtime, it's yet another realization on display that we can't expect any true highs from the material. But a little at least.
Although Johnnie To is literally thrown into material he has not been part of 100% and therefore is not 100% on fire, he makes sure we know he's not backing away from his style one bit. As setting for basically the finale of the film, To turns rural and has us nicely on edge as he makes us unsure of where his absurdity is going. It IS funny, blends in danger, off-beat touches and the often hypnotic way To can use landscapes (in this case a gunplay finale in a field).
Concluding the film with some sort of hint of what all of the above was about, I've personally no idea why and what happened but as the project Triangle obviously came with a limited set of expectations (a healthy stance going into the film), it's quite a decent little exercise that shows you rightly can't make coherence out of different styles but nevertheless, playtime in Hong Kong cinema is not a bad thing. With the actors, especially the nervous Simon Yam and nearly constantly abused Louis Koo, willingly playing along, Triangle is a mess that we rather approve of.
Mega Star presents the film in an aspect ratio of 2.32:1 approximately, with anamorphic enhancement. Crystal clear and damage free, there's nothing seemingly visible to complain about here.
Audio options are Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1, Cantonese DTS 5.1 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 but as I'm not equipped with such a system, my assessment of this disc aspect will be left off this review.
The English subtitles read well and come with no distracting errors. Traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles are also included.
All the extras reside on the 2nd disc, none of which come with English subtitles aside from the trailer. The Making Of (6 minutes, 14 seconds) has the directing trio speaking a little in English when they're at some festival but the remainder of the program is of standard structure. The viewer get some insight into the shooting schedule as it's written out on screen how long each director shot for and Dog Bite Dog director Soi Cheang can be seen assisting Tsui Hark (Cheang's credit on the movie is Executive Director)
Behind The Scene reveals three sections, Tsui Hark (16 minutes, 8 seconds), Ringo Lam (23 minutes, 9 seconds) and Johnnie To (22 minutes, 21 seconds) and features raw footage from the set. We follow Tsui (and Soi Cheang assisting actively) during the monotonous methods of filmmaking as well as Ringo Lam and Johnnie To. A certain naked truth is evident in these programs but they're not stimulating experiences more than sporadically.
Deleted Scene goes on for 16 minutes, 38 seconds and aside from the extended opening with Gordon Lam and Kelly Lin, the various extensions don't translate well sans subtitles. A Mainland Chinese ending caps the reel. Remainder of the extras consists of the trailer and a TV spot.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson