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John’s Asian Horror Corner: 3 Extremes (2004)

January 26, 2012

MY CALL:  These three stories seem to be presented in order of sanity.  The plots range from over-explainedly easy to follow one-acts, to fragmented and confusing to the point that I wonder why the filmmakers even bothered.  As someone who loves “extreme” movies, I feel that there was nothing even resembling extreme’s little sister in 3 Extremes.  Very disappointing.  As far as extreme movies go, this gets a C-/D.  But Dumplings gets a B as a nice, subtle, Tales from the Crypt story.  WHAT TO WATCH INSTEAD:  Want superweird plotty Asian extreme?  Try Strange Circus (2005), Audition (1999) or Re-Cycle (2006).  Swap plotty for action and go for Battle Royale (2000).  Add gore and depravity and you should turn to the latest Tokyo Shock flicks like Tokyo Gore Police (2008) or Robo-Geisha (2009).  Check out my Beginner’s Guide to Tokyo Shock Cinema to learn more about Tokyo Shock.

Dumplings (Directed by Fruit Chan)

 

[Like an Asian Julia Childs, Bai Ling works the dumpling dough]

This first twisted tale is lead by Bai Ling (Crank: High Voltage) playing Auntie Mei, an apparently young woman.  A potential “client” arrives at Mei’s home and orders some rejuvenating dumplings.  Sounds like the typical holistic, Eastern medicine approach.  Like a young Asian Martha Stewart, Mei narrates some cooking tips as she prepares the meal and presents it for the diner’s approval—but not before advising that the client forget “what they were” and rather attend to “what they’ll do.”

[That taste…what does that taste remind me of…?]

The imagery alludes to the dumplings’ secret ingredient.  But if that wasn’t enough, Mei also runs a revealing errand at the local hospital.  Then, as if the writers were afraid that the viewers still wouldn’t get it, Mei delights in explaining the disturbing ingredients in great detail.  I feel that the writers/director should have let the imagery alone suggest the disturbing nature of the dumplings’ filling.  There was no attempt to shock the viewer, making this a subtle, smooth film experience.

[This does not taste like chicken!]

The wardrobe and food are all very colorful, lively in fact.  Contrastingly, the sets and lighting are dull and soft.  This is no Saw or Hostel, but I’m sure a few fair-weather horror-goers may be a bit squeamish about it.  This short one-act has a charming Tales from the Crypt-esque feel at the end.

Cut (Directed by Chan-wook Park; Thirst, Oldboy)

In this short film a director (Byung Hun-Li; The Good, the Bad, and the Weird, I Saw the Devil) and his wife are forced into a sick murder game.  Why?  Some extra was somehow sickened by the fact that he (the director) was not only educated and wealthy, but also a nice person; someone never meeting the temptation to sin. So, with the threat of cutting off one of his wife’s fingers every five minutes, this extra intends to force him to kill a child.

Most Asian horror is typically plotty and slow.  This one-act follows suit, but manages to deliver an awkwardly grinning song and dance number.  There is a well-derived twist, but it’s presented in an over-subdued manner that numbed me of any shock.  All in all, this ended up being a little too schizophrenic for my taste.  It was somewhat entertaining, very random, and overall intentionally disconcertingly misdirecting.

The Box (Directed by Takashi Miike; Audition, Ichi the Killer, 13 Assassins)

[This is exactly why you never go see Cirque du Soliel on acid.  You see this shit!]

Lots of provocative imagery and beautiful shots.  Very weird.  This short is far from a one-act.  It feels like a full length movie that was cut and recut down to 30 minutes and cut so much that the tools the audience required to understand the story’s significance were lost in the process.  This strange tale follows identical twin adolescent circus contortionists and the adult lover of one of them.  The slightly hotter twin, right, frat guy who still high-fives? Various utilized devices include emotionally tortured dream sequences, envy-guilt tugs-of-war, and generally weird imagery.

I found this to be both very interesting and very pointless at the same time.  I felt that there was no twist; no reason to put this story to film.  However I wasn’t bored or upset that I watched it.

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Trackbacks

  1. Tokyo Gore Police « Written in Blood
  2. John’s Horror Corner: The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (2011) « Movies, Films & Flix
  3. John’s Horror Corner: Little Deaths (2011) « Movies, Films & Flix
  4. John’s Horror Corner: The Theater Bizarre (2011) « Movies, Films & Flix
  5. John’s Horror Corner: The ABCs of Death (2013), and a guide to its short films | Movies, Films & Flix
  6. John’s Horror Corner [INDEX] | Movies, Films & Flix
  7. John’s Old School Horror Corner: The Uncanny (1977) | Movies, Films & Flix
  8. John’s Horror Corner: V/H/S 2 (2013), another mixed bag horror anthology that’s worth a look for the adventurous | Movies, Films & Flix
  9. John’s Horror Corner: ABCs of Death 2 (2014), and a guide to its short films and directors. | Movies, Films & Flix
  10. Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), a great horror anthology featuring mummies, killer black cats and amorous gargoyles. | Movies, Films & Flix
  11. John’s Horror Corner: Tales from the Crypt (1972), a truly classic horror anthology. | Movies, Films & Flix
  12. John’s Horror Corner: The Vault of Horrors (1973), not quite living up to its Tales from the Crypt prequel, but fun nonetheless. | Movies, Films & Flix
  13. V/H/S Viral (2014), another found footage horror anthology with a couple of cool short stories | Movies, Films & Flix
  14. John’s Horror Corner: Creepshow (1982), a classic, campy, nostalgic horror anthology from Stephen King and George Romero! | Movies, Films & Flix
  15. 3 Days until Halloween! October Pick #5: Trick ‘r Treat (2007) | Movies, Films & Flix
  16. John’s Horror Corner: A Christmas Horror Story (2015), a holiday anthology complete with zombie elves, evil spirits and Santa fighting Krampus! | Movies, Films & Flix
  17. John’s Horror Corner: Deadtime Stories (1986), a wonderfully campy horror anthology with diverse effects and dark fairy tales. | Movies, Films & Flix
  18. John’s Horror Corner: Southbound (2015), five linked tales form this decent horror anthology with angels of death and the worst broken leg ever. | Movies, Films & Flix
  19. John’s Horror Corner: Holidays (2016), an excellent horror anthology with some shockingly good horror shorts. | Movies, Films & Flix
  20. John’s Horror Corner: The ABCs of Death 2.5 (2016), really not the best horror anthology, with a variety of perverted themes. | Movies, Films & Flix
  21. John’s Horror Corner: Noroi: The Curse (2005), legends of Japanese demons and creepy psychics. | Movies, Films & Flix
  22. John’s Horror Corner: After Midnight (1989), a decent horror anthology. | Movies, Films & Flix
  23. John’s Horror Corner: The Willies (1990), a hokey kid-friendly-ish horror anthology starring Sean Astin. | Movies, Films & Flix

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