This is a horror collaboration that consists of three segments (as the title would suggest), each one directed by a different director from a different Asian country. Originally this film did not get an American release. However, once its sequel Three… Extremes became popular due to the involvement of directors with strong followings such as Takashi Miike and Park Chan-Wook, this film was released in America under the name Three Extremes II (making it the sequel to its sequel). Each segment is roughly about 40 minutes long. The directors had free reign in what they wanted to show, but there is a connection in the fact that all three deal with ghosts in some way. My favorite thing about this collection is how each segment demonstrates certain characteristics from each of the three cultures and how they can be compared.
The first segment is called Memories and it is directed by Kim Jee-Woon from South Korea. At that point, he had made some waves with The Quiet Family and would go on to enjoy success with A Tale of Two Sisters the year after this segment was released. The segment contains two characters who are both struggling to remember what has happened to them and are trying to best to regain their memories. It is slow with very minimal dialogue. It relies on heavy atmosphere and some occasional creepy imagery as the characters are not exactly sure if what they are seeing is real or not. It is a simple plot/concept and the twist at the ending is pretty easy to figure out, but that is not the point. The point of Memories is to journey with the characters and enjoy the ride rather than constantly be surprised and shocked. It is easy to get lost in the scenery as the characters walk around the busy streets that are full of tall buildings.
The second segment is called The Wheel and is directed by Nonzee Nimibutr of Thailand, who was already well known for his film Nang Nak, which is also a ghost story. This is often thought of as being the weakest of the three segments. However, I found this piece to be really interesting. Being familiar with the work of Kim Jee-Woon, I had seen how South Korea tackles film making, but this was my first time experiencing something that Thailand had to offer. The piece is rooted in folklore, happens in the countryside, and shows much of the customs and traditions when it comes to storytelling and entertainment. The piece has an old school feel to it, which I felt was a very nice balance when compared to the other segments in this anthology. It deals with cursed puppets and the group of people that come across them. It is probably the segment with the most restraint as it does not show much violence or horror as it could have shown when dealing with a topic like this. The mystery surrounding the story and the beauty of the costumes shows a lot about the culture.
The final segment of the collection is also the most popular segment out of the three by far. Going Home is directed by Peter Chan of China, who has quite a resume of movies that he has directed and movies that he has produced (such as The Eye, it’s sequels, it’s American remake, and Three… Extremes). This segment was later released as a full length film with added portions to it (something that I would have loved to have seen included as a bonus feature/bonus disc in this collection). A cop encounters a neighbor who is hiding a dark secret while he is searching the compound he lives in for his missing son. The segment contains, horror, mystery, and suspense towards the beginning, and becomes more heartfelt, emotional, and personal towards the end. The location also does a great job adding to the intensity of the segment, as it was filmed in former police quarters that were completely abandoned two years before the release of the movie. After my first viewing of the segment, I thought that it was overhyped, but after subsequent viewings, I realized what made this such a beautiful segment, and I look forward to seeing the full version one day.
All in all, this is a great collection that deserves a viewing from anyone who has an open mind when it comes to horror. It serves as a wonderful demonstration to how different cultures tackle ghost stories and horror movies in general. At 2 hours long, it can be a tedious movie to watch, especially because of its deliberately slow pace. However, each director does a great job exploring the concept of horror and what makes a movie scary. Is it silence or loud noises that scare you? Is it the things you can see or the things that are unknown? Is it things that are realistic or things that are supernatural? Whatever it is, there is sure to be something here for you to enjoy.