HOW ARE these for life’s ironies: no good deed goes unpunished, and goodness sometimes has a price—one’s life? Case in point: Michel Gerfaut (Alain Delon), who encounters threats to his life after trying to save a dying man in “Trois Hommes à Abbatre (Three Men to Kill).”

Gerfaut is pretty much an ordinary man, save for his rather unique way of making a living—playing poker. On his way to a poker session, Gerfaut comes upon an injured motorist on a deserted road. Gerfaut takes him to the hospital, unaware that in so doing, he has signed his own death warrant. He has unwittingly involved himself in an arms deal cover-up, and soon becomes the new target of the same assassins of the man he tried to save.

Directed by the late Jacques Deray, who was often called the “French Alfred Hitchcock,” “Trois Hommes” follows the plot of a typical good-versus-bad film. There are, however, a few twists in the plot which, aside from providing touches of humor, also assert the premise that life, indeed, has certain ironies. What else could one conclude when the villain suddenly dies of a heart attack, just as he was about to dispatch the hero?

Delon, who had worked with Deray for over 30 years, shines as the unlikely hero caught up in the world of crime, pulling off a convincing performance as the multi-faceted Gerfaut.

Although the film is predictable, Delon’s performance remains a wonder to watch. The masterful employment of close-ups in the car chase sequence and the conflict between hero and villain likewise give the film its saving grace.

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Originally filmed in 1980, “Trois Hommes à Abbatre” was shown last April 5 in the Cine Club of the Alliance Française de Manille, a non-profit organization advancing Franco-Filipino relations. Cine Club shows a weekly show of French films of all types, such as features, documentary, historical and classic films in the Alliance Ondeo Auditorium in Makati.

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