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Three Times

3.5 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Three Times is a Hou Hsiao masterpiece. A rapturous and beautiful love story set in three different eras, a pool hall in 1966, a 1911 brothel and present day Taipei. Stylistic and true to life of the times, Hou Hsiao Hsien brings to life the culture of each period as the tale unfolds. Critically acclaimed for its wisdom, cineamatic style and storytelling it is a must see for any true lover of cinema

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Product Details

  • Actors: Qi Shu, Chen Chang, Fang Mei, Shu-Chen Liao, Mei Di
  • Directors: Hsiao-Hsien Hou
  • Writers: Hsiao-Hsien Hou, T'ien-wen Chu
  • Producers: Ching-Song Liao, Gilles Ciment, Hua-fu Chang, Wen-Ying Huang
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Silent, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Ifc
  • DVD Release Date: September 26, 2006
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Domestic Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • International Shipping: This item can be shipped to over 75 destinations outside of the U.S. Learn More
  • ASIN: B000GBEWPC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,890 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Three Times" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Farr on July 30, 2007
Format: DVD
The brilliance of Hou's magnificently gorgeous meditation on love and longing, of course, is the conceit of using the same two actors in each sequence. And you couldn't ask for better performers than Chang and Shu, who are captivating regardless of the age they're portraying, particularly in the nostalgic, near-wordless "A Time for Love" segment, steeped in a sultry `60s atmosphere. Hou's other brilliant stroke is to make the next part, which unfolds in a brothel during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, a short silent film, with hypnotic music and title cards. Taken as a whole, "Three Times" is nothing short of a rapturous, romantic masterpiece--in triplicate.
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Format: DVD
Three Times is quickly becoming my favorite film, with each viewing I find a new favorite segment. At first it was the third, then the first, now the middle....and those were five viewings ago. In addition to picking a favorite segment, another difficult task is coming up with an overarching theme that connects the three pieces aside from the same two main characters. As a Taiwanese American, I'm partial to Hou's films, but I admit that they are not always easy to understand, or appreciate. Ultimately, it comes down to if the movie strikes a cord with you. For me it did, but I can understand why for some it is only less boring than watching paint dry.

There are so many wonderful moments in the film for me that I can easily fall in love with this film without having to cohere the three different stories. Whether it is the familiar roadsigns that distinguish the drab, nondescript little towns from one another on Chang's quest to find Shu in "A Time for Love," which remind me so much of my own frantic drives on the highway in anticipation of seeing a loved one, or the heartbreaking piano score that picks up its pace as Shu ponders the lamentable fate the little girl is about to enter in "A Time for Freedom," which can be heard on the trailer for the film on youtube by the way, this film immerses and tugs at you surreptitiously and from all directions.

The more I watch the film, the more I struggle to find Hou's message for this film. Is he trying to say that love is eternal, unapologetic and transcends time or that it is cruel, ever-changing and subject to interpretation? This film merits repeated viewing. Give it a chance, and another one, perhaps a third, and decide for yourself. Dare I say it, you don't have to be a fan of Hou's aestheticism and narrative style to enjoy this film.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This movie is three independent portraits of eras and different aspects of the human condition. The first is set in 1966 and is a portrait of the search for love. The second takes place in 1911 (despite the product description, this seems like a mansion, not a brothel) and tells the story of the need for freedom from a contract of servitude. The final piece demonstrates the heartbreaks and regrets of youth.

Each portrait is a reasonable attempt to match the style of movies of the period in which it is set. For example the 1911 piece is done as a silent movie.

The movie's greatest weakness is also its greatest strength. All of the scenes have a very pedestrian feeling which takes some time to get used to. However, the same slow approach immerses the viewer in the worlds of the characters in a way which other movies do not do.

Also the movie is short on dialog and the focus of the manners and facial expressions of the characters is central.

This is a great movie, but may seem a little slow for some. The acting is superb, as is the directing, etc. But not everyone will enjoy it. However, I would still give this 5 stars. I will probably watch it again and again.
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I can understand that without certain historical knowledge and an understanding of the current culture of Taiwan, the second and the third piece could be somewhat difficult to related. But the first story is absolutely a masterpiece. It contains minimum plot (if you would call it a plot), minimum dialogue (no more than 10 words in each conversation), yet it makes you fall in love with the characters. Is it possible to blame the critics for calling it anything other than "magic"?
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Three Times is a highly acclaimed film from Hou Hsiao Hsien that involves three separate stories of love, each featuring actors Shu Qi and Chang Chen. In hindsight, they are not so much about love as they are about longing.
The first part (A Time for Love) is a tender and utterly charming vignette about the pursuit of love set in 1966 Taiwan. Chen is a soldier who periodically returns to a pool hall to see the attendant there (Qi). The second part (A Time for Freedom) is a silent movie set in a brothel during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. The third part (A Time for Youth) is set in present day Taipei and involves a love triangle between Qi, her female lover, and Chang. It is a sad and bleak vision of love to say the least.
The titles sum up each story as we have love that blooms in the first title but suffers under the sexual inequality of one era and the self-absorbed and nihilistic inherencies of another. All three pieces are short on dialogue and thus demand much of the viewer to observe and interpret.
Qi is good throughout; sweet and shy, graceful and demure, or angst-ridden and self-destructive. Chen is given a bit less to work with, but he does a good job as the love interest, especially in the first part.
It's hard to distinguish where my personal feelings of love start and where the stark yet genuine treatment of love from three different stories ends. I would say that there are times in my life when I would prefer each one. To that end, love as portrayed in Three Times starts out with great promise and hope, runs into obstacles, and then turns sour and dies. Furthermore, after such a wonderful beginning, it's fair to say that the movie leaves the viewer wanting so much more and feeling disappointed and cheated. Perhaps that is Hsien's intended commentary about love as a whole. I hope he's wrong.
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