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Three Extremes (2004)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Fruit Chan
Takashi Miike
Chan-wook Park

Starring:
Byung-hun Lee/Director
Won-hie Lim/Terrorist
Miriam Yeung /Ching
Kyoko Hasegawa/Kyoko
PLOT-CRUNCH
Three King Shite horror directors unite to give us three spine chilling tales in a fashion that only the Asians have down pat!
THE LOWDOWN

From the Nightmares of 3 Horror Masters

When I woke up this morning I had a strong craving for something. Was it Frosted Flakes? Nope. A hot chick? Not today. A glass of JD? Just had one! Then it hit me, I was yearning for a bowl of potent Asian horror. So I went through my shite and found the anthology Three Extremes. What better way to start the day then with a varied dose of Asian loving (3 tales directed by a Chinese, a Korean and a Japanese)! A sequel to the less successful "Three" (2002), Three Extremes dealt more with human horror (the scariest kind to me) as opposed to the supernatural type and thankfully, all three accounts came through in their own special ways.

-The first spoonful of vinegar jammed down my throat was the semi stylish DUMPLINGS by Fruit Chan (Made in Hong Kong) which had to do with an aging actress (well interpreted by
Miriam Yeung) guzzling down on special dumplings at some oddball cook’s (Played by ta zany Ling Bai) place. Why? All in the name of retaining her babe-liscious appearance…what else? This segment was oddly occasionally sexy, made a light (yet thought provoking) statement on how far some people would go to retain their good looks and glimpsed its nastiness my way as my feeble mind gapped the rest for maximum whoopass.

The sucker punch was that, once the magic ingredient within the dumplings was revealed, the horror of the piece was let loose like a wild bull in search of a matador to ram. Result: mucho queasiness from yours truly. What an ugly idea! I loved it (all about the chewing sounds…brrr)! Granted the flick got a tad predictable at the halfway point as to where it was heading and it could’ve gone much further with its themes (the possibilities were there) but as the cruel final frame filled my screen, I could say that I was a happy a-hole. Where can I get some of those dumplings?
-SECOND HELPING! The engagingly and kinetically directed CUT by stylist extraordinaire Chan-wook Park (of Oldboy fame) was then stuffed down my yapper. Talk about some harsh stuff! The story? An ace film director, his wife and some kid are taken hostage by a bitter “extra” (background performer) who was all about wielding an axe and cutting fingers. I dug this segment a lot where not only did the story find and play up the dark humor within the warped situation, but it also often interrupted my giggles with some hefty servings of viciousness and f*cked up scenarios. One element that grabbed me by the collar as well, was that the piece’s villain
(played to a tilt by Won-hie Lim)  reminded of a couple of people I know.

You know the type, they blame their messed up childhood for who they are today, project their own failure onto others and feel that the world owes them everything. I wanted to reach into the screen and punch that guy out while saying “Who gives a shit what happened to you, once an adult, your life is in YOUR HANDS! BE A MAN! Tag to that truly engaging performances and a fearless demeanor in terms of being “out of line” and you got a keeper. My only peeve was the "blah" final frame. I felt cheated and I didn’t buy the execution. Other than that, all was peachy!

-Last but not least the artsy BOX by Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer) was force fed to me. BOX tells the anecdote….of…I’m not sure to be honest! All I know is that some “use to be side-show attraction” dame killed her sister when she was a kid, jealous that their pedophile Father was paying more attention to her sibling than her. The flick played out like an experimental reel more axed towards a disorderly and emotionally charged dream like narrative than a linear one. But that was all good!

Miike went hog-wild visually with striking imagery and symbolism galore. Furthermore the flick was such a treat audio wise! I’m talking an odd score and a poignant use of silence to accentuate some of the heavier events. And if that wasn’t enough implied nastiness, a talented lead actress in Kyoko Hasegawa ,some creepiness and a handful of touching moments were also on display to make the ride a more impact heavy one. My only complaint about it was the left field final frame which went to confuse me more as to what I was watching and unfortunately for me lessened the strength of the whole.

And that was my freaking morning! Three Extremes was a tight anthology that put out three different types of tales when it came to tone, execution, themes and style. It started my day on the right stab that’s for sure! Will it do the same for you? Fix yourself up an Extreme Omelet and find out!

GORE
We get dead fetuses (creepy), some “abortion induced” blood, a red drenched umbilical cord, cut of fingers with an axe, a grisly coup de grace that I won’t reveal, a light stab, ample plasma and more! Graphic and suggestive at just the proper plane!
ACTING
Byung-hun Lee (Director) was credible while possessing a riveting sense of stillness. Won-hie Lim (Terrorist) had a blast with the role! See him dance! See him whack that axe with glee! See him deliver his monologues with passion. I bought it and enjoyed his performance immensely. Miriam Yeung (Ching) was gorgeous as she downplayed her role to the right level for maximum effect. Kyoko Hasegawa (Kyoko) blew my mind, displaying a wide range of emotion that she wore on her sleeve throughout. I wanted to hug her and only then grab her ass! That’s rare for me!
T & A
No 100% nudity here, but we get a glimpse of the a side of a breast (nice breast too) and enough warped sexual situations to either turn you on or off…all depending on how messed up you are.
DIRECTING
Fruit Chan was the lower key one of the lot; his direction served the story while showcasing swell dark atmosphere and hints of style. Takashi Miike went all out in the trippy audio/visual candy while Chan-wook Park indulged himself with all kind of crazy shots and nifty angles. Three extremely great directors.
SOUNDTRACK
The scores were weird to say the least but in a good, morbid and oppressive kind of way. The sound design in all three tales also worked wonders in amplifying each respective experience.
BOTTOM LINE
Three Extremes came through to the extreme (I know AWFUL pun…believe it or not I pissed myself off writing that one…but f*ck it). DUMPLINGS had me thinking, made me uneasy and ruined me with its daring finale. CUT slapped me around with its bold attitude and black humor heavy demeanor. And BOX touched me, disgusted me with its incest stuff, mesmerized me via its visuals and then left me in a total state of confusion. Sure, there’s some stuff I would’ve liked different and the ending of both CUT and BOX let me down, but with that spat out, this was some classy Asian horror stuff. You in the mood for some layered and challenging horror? Dig in, puke it out and dig in some more!!
BULL'S EYE
Lions Gate's U.S. version switched the order inw hcih the stories appeared.In the original Asian release it went: Box/Dumplings/Cut. The LG went: Dumplings/Cut/Box.

Dumplings was first a feature film that Fruit Chan edited down as a short for this anthology. Teh feature film sported a different ending.

VISIT THE OFFICIAL THREE EXTREMES SITE HERE

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8:31PM on 10/02/2006

fantastic

I thought they were all terrific. "Dumplings" was creepy and though provoking, "Cut" was fun and intense, and "Box" was scary and...SCARY! All are worth watching!
I thought they were all terrific. "Dumplings" was creepy and though provoking, "Cut" was fun and intense, and "Box" was scary and...SCARY! All are worth watching!
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10:29AM on 08/05/2006

Intriguing, challenging, confusing.

Although the feelings evoked by Three Extremes were wholly unpleasant (especially when watching 'Dumplings') I can appreciate that it takes a good film to affect me like that. My only criticism is its frustrating tendency to start out as a straightforward narrative and then dissolve into an ambiguous and confusing finale leaving me scratching my head. I like Lynchian stuff and I also like a straight story but I wished they would pick one and stick with it.
Although the feelings evoked by Three Extremes were wholly unpleasant (especially when watching 'Dumplings') I can appreciate that it takes a good film to affect me like that. My only criticism is its frustrating tendency to start out as a straightforward narrative and then dissolve into an ambiguous and confusing finale leaving me scratching my head. I like Lynchian stuff and I also like a straight story but I wished they would pick one and stick with it.
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3:48PM on 01/30/2006

Pretty groovy

I didn't get weak in the knees over this movie, yet still enjoyed it. It's gotten to a point where every asian horror movie are becomming alike and are now (dare I say it) mainstream. Whether it's the movies like the ring (some strange, supernatural force killing people), or a Takashi Miike film (gory, brutal, fun), it's all being done over and over again. Granted Three Extremes were none of these things, however it all felt familiar. Dumplings was a good story, yet when it got to the twist
I didn't get weak in the knees over this movie, yet still enjoyed it. It's gotten to a point where every asian horror movie are becomming alike and are now (dare I say it) mainstream. Whether it's the movies like the ring (some strange, supernatural force killing people), or a Takashi Miike film (gory, brutal, fun), it's all being done over and over again. Granted Three Extremes were none of these things, however it all felt familiar. Dumplings was a good story, yet when it got to the twist (that was fairly predictable) it got somewhat campy. Cut, my favorite of the 3 by far is the only one that I really can't complain about (except for the quick ending), and Box was just a bit to out there for me to get my panties in a bunch. Don't get me wrong, Three Extremes was awesome...I'm just looking for something more.
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1:06PM on 01/30/2006

Great Review

Spot on with every point. I really dug this film and with such high expectations, it didn't let me down a second.
A true breath of fresh air in a genre of rehashed ideas.
Spot on with every point. I really dug this film and with such high expectations, it didn't let me down a second.
A true breath of fresh air in a genre of rehashed ideas.
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