Monday, October 24, 2011

Three... Extremes

Three… Extremes is a trio of horror-based short films directed by three of Asian cinema’s top filmmakers. In the segment Dumplings that is directed by Fruit Chan and written by Lillian Lee, an aging actress finds a new anti-aging cream unaware of its substance. In Cut by Chan-wook Park, a filmmaker and his wife are kidnapped by an extra as he plays a sick game against the director. In Box that is directed by Takashi Miike and written by Bun Saikou and Haruko Fukushima, a young woman has a recurring nightmare believing in involves her twin sister. The result is a fascinating yet stylish trilogy of shorts from some of the best filmmakers working today.


Mrs. Li (Miriam Yeung) is dealing with a fading career as an actress as her husband (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) is having an affair with a maid (Pauline Lau). Dealing with her old age, Mrs. Li turns to a mysterious woman named Mei (Bai Ling) who creates special dumplings to deal with Li’s aging. Mrs. Li eats the dumplings as she discovers the secret ingredient that Mei puts into the dumplings. Though it worked for Mrs. Li’s issues, complications arrive when it involved a young woman (Miki Yeung) as Mrs. Li turns to Mei for help as trouble starts to arrive about what had just happened.


A filmmaker (Lee Byung-hun) returns home where is knocked out by a mysterious man (Lim Won-hie) as he later wakes up. There, he sees his wife (Kang Hye-jeong) suspended by ropes in mid-air as she sits next to a piano where the man threatens to cut each of her fingers off. Meanwhile, a young child is on a couch tied up as well as the man, who is revealed to be an extra of the director’s films, is challenging the director to kill the child so his wife can go free in a game of morality and wits. Even as the man is trying to force the director his own sins throughout this ordeal.


A quiet novelist (Kyoko Hasegawa) is dealing with recurring nightmares as she believes they’re connected to a memory when she was a circus performer as a child with her twin sister. Believing that the ghost of her twin sister is appearing, she deals with the guilt that she was responsible for her sister’s death while begins to believe that her dream is really something that could become real.

The film is essentially a trio of little horror stories in three different styles from three different filmmakers. The stories each present a different type of extreme as it all relates to the idea of horror. Still, the directors of this project chose to create their own idea of what extreme is as it’s all about how a person would react to their situations.

In Dumplings, it’s about a woman that is trying to look young to revive her acting career and to get her husband’s attention. With the help of a mysterious woman, she eats special dumplings that feature a key secret ingredient. The secret ingredient is something that is just fucking disgusting to the point where the audience is wondering why? What becomes more extreme is how the woman reacts to it much later in the film while the woman who cooks it doesn’t think she’s doing anything wrong. Fruit Chan’s direction is mostly straightforward for the story as he’s carried by Christopher Doyle’s lush cinematography to the brilliant performances of Miriam Yeung and Bai Ling for what is this gorgeous yet cringe-inducing story.

In Cut, it’s all about an extra seeking vengeance against a successful filmmaker he’s worked for while playing a game against the filmmaker. In this game of vengeance, a young child and the director’s wife are in danger as the extra forces the director to do things though he is really a good man. Chan-wook Park’s direction is very stylish with amazing camera work, startling compositions, and dark humor as the terrifying performance of Lim Won-hie is electrifying as is the harrowing conclusion of the film as it is a short that does go to extremes.

Takashi Miike’s Box is a much different film from the previous as its approach to extreme isn’t what many would expect from Miike. Instead, the short is very restrained in its presentation that includes gorgeous cinematography and stylish editing to complement the haunting tone of the short. Featuring a mesmerizing performance from Kyoko Hasegawa, the short is about a woman dealing with guilt and the nightmares she’s dealing with as she is seeking forgiveness in what she’s done. While it might seem like the weakest of the three films because it strays from convention, it’s still a short that is very entrancing in what Miike presents.

Three… Extremes is a superb yet chilling anthology film from Fruit Chan, Chan-wook Park, and Takashi Miike that brings something new and horrifying to the world of horror films. The film is definitely something that horror fans will enjoy in terms of chills and discomfort as well as something that is dramatic and has some humor. For the fans of these filmmakers, it’s a must-see for the work they put and how they handle the horror genre in their own way. In the end, Three… Extremes is a brilliant yet spellbinding horror anthology film from Fruit Chan, Chan-wook Park, and Takashi Miike.

Chan-wook Park Films: (The Moon is… the Sun’s Dream) - (Trio) - Judgement (1999 short film) - JSA: Joint Security Area - Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance - (If You Were Me-Never Ending Peace and Love) - Oldboy - Sympathy for Lady Vengeance - I'm a Cyborg but That's OK - Thirst - (Night Fishing) - Stoker - The Handmaiden - (The Little Drummer Girl (2018 TV series)) - Decision to Leave

© thevoid99 2011

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