Having seen this Asian horror triptych recently in Hong Kong (see More Information below for a brief review originally posted on the forum), we're now quite jealous of those of you out in the US who are getting a chance to see the film in cinemas this week.
To co-incide with the US theatrical release, a new website for the film (including a gorgeous large trailer) has now surfaced at www.threeextremes.com/.
Nicely designed, the site features areas devoted to all three chapters (Miike Takeshi's Box, Fruit Chan's Dumplings and Park Chan-Wook's Cut) as well as the usual synopsis and an area to post your own fears at www.postyourfear.com/.
Still no word on a UK release, which is a mighty shame.
Consisting of three Asian short films, one from Japan, one from Hong Kong and one from South Korea, Three.. Extremes opens with Takeshi Miikeís Box.
Although the weakest of the three films on offer, Box is a visually stunning exercise in that old horror chestnut, 'what is a dream and what is reality?'. Kyoko is a writer haunted by the accidental death of her sister when the pair were both young girls performing as part of a travelling show. Although initially confusing (this segment will undoubtedly benefit from repeat viewings), Box contains many surreal and horrifying images (including a vicious eye-stabbing and a burned body in a box), but itís lack of a real narrative may put some people off.
Next up is Fruit Chan with a shortened version of his Hong Kong film Dumplings. Reduced to 40 minutes from itís original 90-minute version, Dumplings works so well in its shortened version, itís difficult to see what could have been removed from the full length film. Mrs Li is an ex-actress, preoccupied with retaining her looks largely to keep the attentions of her adulterous husband. Hearing about Aunt Mei and her rejuvenating dumplings, Li pays a visit to taste Meiís culinary delights of dough stuffed with meat.
Of course, itís not your typical meat thatís used in Meiís recipe, and thankfully Chan reveals the well-signposted ingredients early on in the film (clue; itís not going to please the Anti-abortionists of this world), but just as weíre trying to stomach this unsavoury plot development, Chan increases the tension, building the film towards itís even more horrific climax. Well-directed, well-acted and genuinely unnerving, Dumplings will certainly make you think twice about visiting your local Dim Sum restaurant.
As a side note, it has just been announced that the US Region 1 DVD release of ThreeÖ Extremes will contain the full-length version of Dumplings when it is released in February 2006.
Best of all though is the final film from South Koreaís director de jour, Park Chan-Wook. His short film Cut opens with that old and much-loved film-within-a-film trick before launching us into a terrifying setting of a film extra kidnapping and tormenting a successful Korean film director (who says Park Chan-Wook doesnít take any inspiration from his own life!?)
Tied up on the directorís current film-set along with his pianist wife, the director is given an ultimatum, kill a child or the extra will cut off one of his wifeís fingers for every five minutes that pass whilst the child is still alive.
With stunning direction (Park has obviously been taking notes from David Fincher and his tricky track shots through small objects), Cut is admittedly not entirely original, but is everything the film Saw wanted to be but wasnít. Filled with humour both subtle and farcical (thereís even a fart gag!), and extreme violence, the film is only let down by a slightly unsatisfying ending that really doesnít make that much sense. However, donít let that put you off, this is a true example of a modern-day genius and innovative filmmaker at work, both brilliantly staged and performed.