The Three Extremes (2004)

‘Saam gaang yi ‘ aka ‘Three Extremes ‘ is a trilogy of horrific films that normally wouldn’t attract the everyday moviegoer but throw in the credentials, you can’t go wrong. It’s actually a sequel to ‘Three’ done 3 years ago, this time consisting of three horror tales from three different countries directed by three noted men (yes, the 3 extremes!).

Dumplings, Cut

Dumplings, Cut

‘Extremes’ starts off with ‘Box’ by my man, the amazing Takashi Miike. It’s an involving film indeed, and tells the story of a woman who dreams about the accidental murder of her twin sister with an underlying complex plot involving a circus performer and pedophilia. As expected from the great Miike it succeeds in cinematic artsy-ness with real care to production design, imagery, juxtaposition, and whatever possible elements to create mood. With a perfectly crafted ending, we then come to learn that things aren’t what they seem (a cliche done the Miike way!) and then kicks in the psychological, elegant, and slick style.

The second story in the film is ‘Dumplings’ by Fruit Chan (I didn’t even know this guy could do horror) . It’s a story about an aging actress who searches for a way to hold on to her youth as well has her cheating husband. I wasn’t at all suprised when I learned that ‘Dumplings’ was shot by famed cinematographer Christopher Doyle of 2046 as its clever visual style contradicted the dark, dark territories that this film ventures into. Bai Ling and Tony Leung make appearances in this 40min film, too. Bai Ling+ Tony Leung+ unborn fetuses = Dumplings. Stick it through the end and you will be… shocked (though it’s a bit of an understatement).

Dumplings, Cut

Dumplings, Cut

The last segment and by far the most entertaining for me is a film entitled ‘Cut’ written and directed by Chan-Wook Park (can’t wait to see his next project). ‘Cut’ is a story about a hotshot film director who comes home only to get knocked out. He wakes up and finds his wife strung up by wires with her fingers superglued to a piano while he has a rope tied around his waist to limit his movements. The culprit? A vengeful movie extra whose gotten it into his head that the director is too successful, too rich, and too handsome and thus needs to be taught a lesson. Its plot structure is all-too familiar (see Phone Booth, Saw, and One Hour Photo) but what follows is a sort of twisted social commentary on the frustrations of every man whose life doesn’t turn out as grand as expected.

This film, and the whole trilogy all together literally blew me away; it’s just so weird and absurd that there’s never a dull moment in this shocking, evil, yet elegant compilation of horrific tales sprinkled with my favorite type of dark comedy.

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