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Overall Rating
4.03

Awesome: 27.59%
Worth A Look48.28%
Just Average: 24.14%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 0%

4 reviews, 5 user ratings


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Three...Extremes
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by Aaron West

"One out of Three Aint Bad."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 ATLANTA FILM FESTIVAL. Remember that train wreck from the 90s called Four Rooms? I know, I know, it was horrible, and only halfway watchable. Three Extremes is essentially the pan-asian alternative, subtracted by one “room,” or “extreme,” as the case is this time. We have three shorts sharing a common intensity, or extremity, all directed by established or up and coming directors from three different Asian homelands. The primary distinction between this one and the Tarantino show ten years ago is that Three Extremes actually has a purpose, other than showing off the star directors (although there is that as well), which is to go further than most would dare. At that, they succeed.

The first feature, “Dumplings,” is a shortened version of a full-length feature directed by Hong Kong’s Fruit Chan. You may not have heard of Chan, but if you’re a fan of Asian film, you’ve certainly heard of cinematographer Christopher Doyle. For my money, he’s the best in the business, and he’s part of the reason so many Asian releases are finding distribution here in the states, including this one. An aging actress seeks out a high priced, underground dumpling merchant. These dumplings, as it turns out, are worth every penny and then some. They have a magical ingredient that miraculously restores one’s youth. I won’t say what that ingredient is in this review. I’ll just say that these dumplings are a little crunchier than the ones you’ll find at your local Chinese restaurant.

“Extreme” is an understatement for the opening act. This is the true test, the make it or break it short, that sets the stage (somewhat) for the rest of the film. Pretty much, if you can’t handle the appetizer, you might as well simply leave the theater, because you won’t like the main courses either.

The next short comes from red-hot Korean director Chanwoo Park, who enjoyed international success along with the Cannes grand jury prize for his Oldboy. His earlier flick, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, should hit US theater later this year, with the last of his revenge trilogy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, due to hit the screen next year. His contribution, entitled “Cut,” is the bloodiest of the three. It also happens to be the least complicated, with most everything taking place on a single set. Cut relies less on visuals, but more on dialogue, resembling something Tarantino-esque rather than the more artistic stories that bookend Park’s. Of all of the shorts, Cut has the best premise, but the incessant dialogue causes it to drag a bit, plus it gets a little sillier than necessary.

The final extreme comes from Japanese auteur Takashi Miike, whose had a steady string of action and horror hits, including Ichi the Killer, Gozu and City of Lost Souls. Unlike his previous work, his “Box” is the least linear and most avant-garde of the extremes. It’s a foray into the dream world of a tormented woman, who tries to come to terms with events in her past. Of the three, Box is the most visually appealing and the most intriguing for any art-cinema fan, but it’s also the most disappointing. After awhile, the re-imagined events simply seem stretched out, as if this was written as a 20 minute short, but extended in order to anchor the omnibus. On top of that, the “gotcha” ending comes out of nowhere, and seems just sort of silly within the context of the picture. Of the three, Miike’s effort is the most forgettable.

The best and only truly worthwhile dish is “Dumplings.” It is not only the boldest, most daring and most reprehensible portion of this movie, but maybe one of the most offensive stories in recent memory, although comically so. It’s difficult to not find amazement in how far Chan went to tell a disturbing story, which also, oddly enough, makes it wildly entertaining. Added to the taboo thrill value, the thing is flat-out gorgeous to watch, thanks mostly to Mr. Doyle. “Cut” and “Box” can be taken and left, but Three Extremes is worth seeing for those magical dumplings.

The best dish and only truly worthwhile dish is “Dumplings.” It is not only the boldest, most daring and most reprehensible portion of this movie, but maybe one of the most offensive stories in recent memory, although comically so. It’s difficult to not find amazement in how far Chan went to tell a disturbing story, which also, oddly enough, makes it wildly entertaining. Added to the taboo thrill value, the thing is flat-out gorgeous to watch, thanks mostly to Mr. Doyle. “Cut” and “Box” can be taken and left, but Three Extremes is worth seeing for those magical dumplings.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11290&reviewer=403
originally posted: 06/28/05 17:45:17
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Atlanta Film Festival For more in the 2005 Atlanta Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Fantasia Festival For more in the 2005 Fantasia Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Boston Fantastic Film Festival For more in the 2005 Boston Fantastic Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2005 Austin Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/18/11 moose rapper Been a fan of Miike and Park for a while, now a potential fan of Firut 4 stars
5/24/07 fools♫gold If you're calm enough to see how different it is: absolute fun (not as good as May). 9.5/10 5 stars
3/05/06 Mushuga See the brilliant Miike short, "Box," and forget the other shitty two. 3 stars
6/29/05 cristeen69 loved the second short dumplings, the third film cut threw me off with the ending 4 stars
6/10/05 K. Sear A great selection of short films by some cutting edge directors. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  28-Oct-2005 (R)
  DVD: 28-Feb-2006

UK
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