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Three... Extremes (2004)

  Directed by: Fruit Chan, Takashi Miike, Chan-wook Park
Written by: Haruko Fukushima, Lilian Lee, Chan-wook Park, Bun Saikou
Starring: Ling Bai, Kyoko Hasegawa, Hye-jeong Kang, Byung-hun Lee, Won-hie Lim, Miriam Yeung Chin Wah, Atsuro Watabe
Links: Three... Extremes on the IMDb

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Three... Extremes (2004) is also mentioned in timchuma's review of Public Toilet (2002).

"Extremely pleasing to the eye" - a review by pearly

Three... Extremes is actually three films within the confines of one, each segment being directed by someone different, and having no real relationship with the other. Kinda like Four Rooms (1995), but without the link of the hotel and the butler - just three separate films with some kind of thematic linkage.

  1. Segment 1 is Dumplings, directed by Fruit Chan. It's about a woman who makes dumplings which she claims give the consumer back their youthful visage. But these dumplings come at a price. The film is fairly disturbing, and a little bit of a gross-out, but it is exceptionally well made, and rather than taking particular notice of its content, I found that I was just fascinated by the depth of colour and the style of the whole thing. From its opening scene, I knew I was in for a visual extravaganza, and Chan delivered this in spades.

    The film actually reminded me a fair bit of Vera Drake (2004), which is rather odd, because in reality, the two films are nothing alike, aside from one particular scene. But it's a comparison that has, for some reason, stuck in my head.

    Just purely based on the stylistic direction of this film, I would be interested in checking out some of Chan's other work. I had checked out his page in the MIFF guide with some level of interest, but only ended up going to see this segment of his work, so I'll have to see what else I can rustle up.

  2. Segment 2 is Cut, directed by the delightfully talented Chan-wook Park. I loved Oldboy (2003), and have been keen to check out some of his other work since, though it's hard to get your hands on. Cut is also a stylish piece of work, though it's considerably more macabre than Dumplings, I feel. Possibly not in its content (both are pretty darned morbid), but the dark feel of the sets and so on give a more overall effect of the horror, whereas Dumplings was dark almost despite its appearance.

    Park delivers in a big way with this segment, which reminded me of Saw (2004) in almost every way except for the level of spit-polish in its sets. Park is a pretty spectacular director, from what I have seen, and though I found the ending to this segment to be a little on the confusing side, it's probably just down to the fact that the session time for the film was 11:25pm, so I was basically watching the whole thing with my mind half switched off.

    Just quickly, the basic premise behind this one is that a director is taken hostage by a crazy guy who then offers the director a series of ultimatums which aim to test the director's moral fibre.

  3. The last segment is Box, directed by Takashi Miike. Murmurs around the cinema were that his other film at the festival, Izo (2004), was a bit of a dog of a thing, so even though I'd heard his name bandied about the place a fair bit, I didn't have my hopes up too high for this conclusion.

    Box focuses on a young woman who is haunted by an incident in her past, and isn't exactly sure whether what she's going through is reality, or whether these things are all in her head.

    Box wasn't terrible, though it was pretty clear cut for me to be able to say that it was my least favourite of the three. In style, it's more like A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) or something like that, and though it had a style to it, this felt pretty watered down compared to the two pieces I'd just seen. I also didn't find the storyline to be as interesting as the others, though as I said, I didn't think it was terrible, it just didn't hold up to the comparison.

I'm struggling inside my head to decide which of the first two segments was my favourite, so I won't even bother picking a winner. I believe that both of them are available as totally separate, longer films in their own right, which may prove to be a delight to some. Definitely not for the squeamish, but I was impressed.

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 29 Aug 2005

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