Three…Extremes – 8

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Director – Fruit Chan(“Dumplings” segment), Chan-wook Park(“Cut” segment), Takashi Miike(“Box” segment)

Cast – Ling Bai(“Dumplings”), Pauline Lau(“Dumplings”), Tony Ka-Fai Leung(“Dumplings”), Meme Tian(“Dumplings”), Miriam Leung(“Dumplings”), Byung-Hun Lee(“Cut”), Won-Hei Lim(“Cut”), Hye-jeong Gang(“Cut”), Jun Goo Lee(“Cut”), Dae Yon Lee(“Cut”), Kyoko Hasegawa(“Box”), Atsuro Watabe(“Box”), Mai Suzuki(“Box”), Yuu Suzuki(“Box”), Mitsuru Akaboshi(“Box”)

Release Year – 2004

Reviewed by John of the Dead

This film is pretty much any Asian cinema fanatic’s wet dream.  Three…Extremes combines the infamous Japanese director Takashi Miike(Audition, Ichi the Killer), South Korean director Chan-wook Park(Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, OldBoy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance), and Hong Kong director Fruit Chan(Durian Durian) in an amazing anthology that consists of three 40 minute films each directed by one of the directors mentioned. Never in Asian horror history has anyone delivered a single film that incorporates such big names into a single project other than this film I am writing of.

The film opens with Fruit Chan’s segment titled Dumplings, which is actually a 40 minute version of a full length film he was going to release(and did release) of course titled…Dumplings. The film follows a rich housewife who has yet to come to terms the aging process that comes with getting older. In a vain attempt to keep whatever beauty she still has, she heads to a woman who apparently has the ingredient to cure, and even reverse part of the aging process. What is her secret? It is her dumplings that she sells at a very high price to those who want to stay beautiful. The dumplings are no secret to anyone, it is what’s INSIDE the dumplings that bring out the true horror of the film, and goes to show how far some women will go to stay beautiful.

Dumplings is without a doubt the most “f*cked up” segment in this film. There are a few signals given early in the segment that should clue you in on what is inside the dumplings, until director Fruit Chan just throws it all at you and lets you witness some really horrid stuff that I personally could never see myself…having the “stomach” to do. Heh. This is the most plot-oriented segment of the film, and Fruit Chan really shows his talent with his excellent use of camerawork and a very chilling musical score that could scare anyone not even looking at the film. No joke. Fruit Chan seems to be the least famous out of the three directors, but he is in no way a lightweight, and will leave you thinking of his “dumplings” well after the credits roll.

The second film is written and directed by Chan-wook Park, and is titled Cut. The film follows a famous movie director with a heart of gold who leaves the set for the night to head home and go about his nightly business. However, soon after he gets home he is attacked by an intruder, and awakes to a truly horrifying ordeal. Someone he does not know, or should I say “does not REMEMBER” is out to prove a point to the director, and his wife is doing the suffering for him. The director can in fact save his wife’s life, and spare her any future suffering, all he has to do is kill an innocent child brought to the home by the intruder. Every five minutes that the child lives, the killer chops off one of his wife’s fingers. When all of her fingers are gone, he plans to move on to her hands, then arms, and well…you get the picture. With a truly horrific decision to make, the director gets pushed to boundaries he never thought he would show anyone, and gives us a truly horrific ending that you will never expect.

Chan-wook’s segment is great, and is definitely the most “exciting” segment of the film. I loved his use of dialogue and plot twists to keep you glued to the screen as all of the carnage unfolds. Chan-wook really uses his creativity to bring us an interesting set and atmosphere for a plot that we have seemingly seen before in other films. It is his ingenuity that makes this segment work, and sets it apart from other “hostage” type films. His great use of camera angles and cinematic colors also make this film a joy to watch, aside from the debauchery going on. I personally found the antagonist for the film to be really enjoyable, especially with the slight speech impediment he had. It showed how his horrible upbringing and views on life took a toll on him, and his social-commentary views that he throws into this film really make sense, and I’m sure will prove many theories sociologists and psychologists have been speaking of for years.

The third film is the most beautiful film, titled Box, and is directed by the master of sick-horror…Takashi Miike. This entry follows a woman who’s twin sister died when they were young, and at the hands of her jealousy. After seeing her sister’s ghost in her apartment complex, she goes to the scene of the crime to find consolement. However once she arrives at the old circus stage where it all happened, she is met by an onlooker who tried to save her sister so many years earlier, and knows her secret all too well.

This one is beautiful, and does not focus too much on plot but more on the talents of Takashi Miike and how he can turn horror into such a beautiful creation. I really enjoyed this watch, and found the story to be fulfilling, although it will confuse you slightly at times. His use of dark, earthly colors in a snow-capped environment are the perfect contrast between complete opposites. Dark vs. white, good vs. evil, Miike lets us know the pain and torment this woman is going through as she lives day by day regretting her past, and then finally accepting the opportunity to confront it head on. Given Miike’s earlier films which tend to rely heavily on crazy gore and really hard-to-watch scenes(which I LOVE), I was really impressed with how this segment turned out. He does in fact put more “horror” into this segment compared to the other two, but he does not go overboard and shock the viewer, aside from the twist at the end that I really enjoyed.

Overall, this is a great anthology from three of Asian cinema’s finest horror directors, and comes along with unique and well written storylines that are sure to please fans of Fruit Chan, Chan-wook Park, and Takashi Miike.  Art and beauty flow heavy in this anthology, and so does the horror.

Rating: 8/10

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