Film Monthly Home
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
Directed by Fruit Chan, Park Chan-wook, Takashi Miike
Written by Haruko Fukushima, Lilian Lee, Park Chan-wook
Starring Kyoko Hasegawa, Atsuro Watabe, Bai Ling, Pauline Lau
Produced by Naoki Sato, Shun Shimizu, Fumio Inoue, Peter Ho-Sun Chan
Okay, folks…there are just two words to sum up this week’s covered title.
Seriously, that’s all you need to know. “Three…Extremes” is going to be some of, if not the best, Asian horror you’ve seen lately. The best Korean horror I’ve ever seen is right here, as are excellent examples from the Chinese and Japanese capabilities.
In fact, Takashi Miike is here.
Now, for those of you who haven’t been keeping up, or just don’t subscribe to Showtime, the pay channel ran a series called “Masters of Horror,” currently at work on another season. It allowed some of the greats, Stuart Gordon, John Carpenter and more, to make a short film and release it.
Takashi Miike did one.
Showtime refused to air it.
Now, you’ve got to wonder…considering what Cinemax can get away with at two in the morning, what kind of monstrousity did Takashi Miike give birth to that gave Showtime enough heebie-jeebies to prevent his airing?
Speculation aside, three fantastic short films here that need the most attention.
First, the Chinese show off the talents of their newest acquisition, Hong Kong, with “Dumplings.” It’s all about a former television star seeking to recover her youth by way of a special recipe dumpling from a shockingly old “Aunt Mei.” The secret ingredient shocks and amazes in this one. It’s been done before, and if you don’t have some guess of the secret ingredient before the halfway point, then you probably haven’t seen enough horror movies.
“Dumplings” manages to get in most of its shock value by way of Mrs. Li, the chronically ignored and cheated on age-phobic housewife, knowing exactly what it is she’s eating, and yet eating it anyway. And with gusto.
The Koreans, who normally worry me every time they release a new horror movie, manage to stun me by releasing something GOOD for a change with “Cut.”
Normally, Korean horror is chatty. A basic blueprint for a Korean horror movie could be described as “People talking, people talking, ghost shows up, people talking, ghost kills some people, people talking, people talking, the movie’s over. A lot of people in the audience look pissed.”
But this time around, the Koreans decide to ramp things up by a whole lot, and give us a disgruntled extra dealing with his director and her wife in a positively vicious fashion. There are loads of twists to this, including the ending which is more twisted than pretty much anything I’ve seen in a good long time.
“Cut” is, without doubt or threat of hyperbole, the best Korean horror I’ve seen.
Lastly, we get a grand finale from the man hisself, Takashi Miike. And what he’s going to give us will blow you away.
I’d tell you about the plot, but frankly, the plot has so many surprises in it that I can’t without giving half of them away. Suffice it to say that, after “Box,” you will never again look the same way at twin Japanese circus performing contortionist ten year olds and their “relationship” with their father.
All the best Japanese traditions are present—jump cuts, long suspense building moments, and plenty of pure on freakiness are in attendance.
The special features, at least on the disc I got, are limited to trailers for “In the Mix,” “A Good Woman,” “Three…Extremes,” “Saw II,” “Cerberus,” “Buried Alive,” “Fear of Clowns,” “Ultimate Avengers,” and “Cake.”
All in all, “Three…Extremes” is extremely good stuff, no matter how you look at it. Every contributor lays out their best stuff, creating a sampler platter of Asian horror that won’t be topped any time soon.
Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.
Got a problem? E-mail us at email@example.com