Three of Asia’s most talented directors from three different countries give us three chilling short stories in this nice compilation.
A young woman, Kyoko, comes to terms with a recurring nightmare that is connected to her past.
As she slowly revisits the events that lead to her sister’s death, she has trouble figuring out what is real and what is not when she is visited by the ghost of her sister.
Ching is an aging and fading star who is desperately searching for a way to regain her youth. Eventually she comes in contact with a gorgeous woman in her early 30’s (or so it seems) who calls herself Aunt Mei.
The secret to Aunt Mei’s beauty and youth is in the special dumplings she prepares, it’s not long before Ching starts paying a hefty sum for the food which will regain her youth, but the question is, what is Aunt Mei’s secret ingredient?
A young and talented director comes home late at night only to be knocked unconscious by an intruder. When he comes to, he sees his pianist wife bound and gagged with her fingers glued to a piano. Looking around, he sees he is no longer in his home but on the movie set he had just come back from. After being confronted by the person who is responsible for this, a disgruntled and psychotic movie extra who thinks the director’s life has been TOO good and deserves fixing, he is given a choice: strangle an innocent child to death or the extra will cut his wife’s fingers off.
For every 5mins the director wastes, one finger will be cut off.
The Japanese effort of the anthology, this one was a little odd. It was directed by Takashi Miike (ICHI THE KILLER, AUDITION) so I was expecting a little more of his normal style (which is a shame for me because BOX is actually pretty good and I didn’t give it a good enough chance).
What we have here is a very moody and psychological story that impacts the viewer with some powerful issues to ponder while the next segment begins.
Unfortunately, BOX really suffers as a 40min short story and makes for a lot of slow building up to the climax. That just feels like a lot of wasted time in creating what could’ve been a very successful movie had it been feature length.
As far as “Extreme” goes (or am I mistaken in believing these short films had to share this theme) BOX doesn’t deliver very much of that nature. There is no scary parts or gross outs or anything of the conventional “Extreme” nature, however the film does have a sense of eerie-ness hanging over it and a very strong emotional core. Perhaps Takashi Miike was trying to break the boundaries of emotional involvement with the audience and create something that really left a mark on the viewer. If that was the case he came pretty close.
Kyoko Hasegawa as Kyoko, the psychologically tormented woman, exuberates such a strong sensuality unlike anything I’ve seen before. Kyoko’s sexual frustrations from her past play out in her as a person in such a sensual way without even the need for nudity (sorry boys, no naked chicks here). Kyoko Hasegawa is excellent in her role and is by far the best thing in BOX, I hope I get to see her in many more films to come.
With that, BOX is the weaker of the three but still has a lot of style and substance to it that should keep you thinking about it hours after viewing it.
BOX builds up nicely to the next story, DUMPLINGS.
Directed by Fruit Chan, DUMPLINGS is probably the most complete and well rounded of the three films. It stars Miriam Yeung as an aging TV star who is desperate to regain her youth and beauty.
After meeting an eccentric young woman named Aunt Mei, Ching (Miriam Yeung) becomes a customer of Aunt Mei’s and constantly purchases her special dumplings that promise to revitalize Ching’s youthful appearance.
DUMPLINGS is one sickening film and unless you have a heart of steal, you can’t help but be disgusted by what’s in the dumplings Aunt Mei cooks.
I don’t want to spoil the secret ingredient, even though you find out what it is within the first 5 minutes, but with this chapter in THREE EXTREMES things really start to become “Extreme”.
With some beautiful visuals, excellent acting and interesting narrative, DUMPLINGS is the strongest of the three films and has even been expanded into a 90 minute version as well.
Directed by Korea’s “it” director, Park Chan Wook (OLD BOY), CUT is probably the most enjoyable of the three films.
It blends some nice gore, a psychotic narrative and some pretty funny humor to become much more suited to a wider audience.
When a young talented director is faced with the decision of strangling an innocent child to death or watching as a psychopath slowly cuts off his pianist wife’s fingers one-by-one, he has to give in to the psycho’s zany demands or be faced with horrid consequences.
The film is very visually pleasing and the acting is also excellent. The imagery of the directors wife strung up and bound with piano wife is something that will stick with you long after watching it (provided you make an emotional connection of course).
THREE EXTREMES is a very pleasing compilation of some great short films by some very talented directors.
While not exactly ground breaking, it should please any Asian cinema fan who just wants to experience the differences of Japanese, Chinese and Korean filmmaking back-to-back.
Please note that opinions expressed in any review are those of our customers and do not necessarily match those of the Play-Asia.com team.
roycck(273) on 21, Jun. 2010 22:27 (HKT)
The Horrors Of Asia! An asian horror extravaganza consisting 3 different stories helmed by directors from Japan, Korea and Hong Kong. If you are looking for a scare, Three extremes Dumplings will no doubt fit the bill.
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