Thursday, April 28, 2011
Aging actress Mrs. Lee (Yeung) has reached a crisis in her life. Age is catching up with her, and she is finding it harder and harder to look beautiful for her husband (Leung Ka-fai). Enter Mei (Bai Ling), a woman who holds what she claims to be the secret cure for natural aging. What is this wondrous creation, it’s not a cream, nor a pill. It’s her special dumplings, created with a secret ingredient. However what will happen when Mrs. Lee discovers what this secret ingredient is?
Calling Fruit Chan’s remarkable Dumplings a disturbing film is quite an understatement to say the very least. Its superb music, creative direction, wonderful cinematography, and outstanding ensemble cast all come together to create an unforgettable experience, though it is an experience that may make you feel sick to the stomach. Dumplings is not so much a horror film as it is a slow moving drama/thriller, although the payoff is truly horrific. It’s hard to really give much information without spoiling the films stomach turning secret recipe! However despite all this, Dumplings is well worth the full 91 minute viewing. It can also be found as one of the three short films on the Three Extremes compilation; however the mere 40 minute version, though it may compliment the overall trilogy of superb film making, does not stand up to the full length version.
Dumplings really does have a lot to offer, including a very stellar cast! Bai Ling is remarkable as she manages to both allure you with her beauty, and completely disturb you with her sadistic intentions. Tony Leung plays a great supporting role, in which he has far more to do then in the shorter Three Extremes version. Leading lady Miriam Yeung is also fantastic. Her portrayal of the youth obsessed Mrs. Lee is incredibly believable, and goes through a shocking change in character. The film almost entirely focus' on these three characters, so it is important that they perform at their best ability, and I assure you they have. Christopher Doyle was also aboard to provide his unbelievable skills with a lens to really add some truly remarkable visuals, which really compliment to great cast, and directing job from Fruit Chan!
The story holds a very strong social commentary. Though the focus of the films horror is the secret ingredient in the miracle dumplings, it’s the fact that our society is so set on the importance of external acceptance, that they are willing to do (or eat) anything that may provide the key to infinite youth!
If you have seen Three Extremes, and enjoyed the Dumplings cut, then take the time to watch the full version (if you live in North America, you probably have as the R1 DVD release of Three Extremes includes the full length Dumplings on a separate Disc.). Its slow going, maybe even a bit too slow for some, but even if you do not enjoy the film itself, there is no denying that its a nice film to look at! Just one word of caution, don’t watch it while eating your dinner (especially if its Dumplings that night!)
8/10 (91 Minute Version)
7/10(40 Minute Version)
A Film by: Fruit Chan