Burp. Oops – excuse me. I tend to get a little nauseous when I think about the short, Dumplings, from the 2004 Hong Kong horror anthology film Three… Extremes. Yes that’s how the title is written, so you can call off the grammar police raid. Well hopefully I had you at the burp, because on this edition of Give Me The Creeps, I’m diving into director Fruit Chan’s twisted little tale of a woman so obsessed with looking youthful that she’ll do anything to achieve it. Trust me on this – I mean ANYTHING.
Part of me doesn’t want to spoil what that anything is. But fuck it – I’m going to. But not just yet. You see, as I’ve said many times before, it takes a lot to creep me out. It takes a lot to make me say “Ok, that’s going too far”. And it takes a lot for me to not want to eat a type of food for any reason because I really like to eat. So you know that whatever is literally inside Dumplings has to be something on a whole other level.
The story, in a nutshell, revolves around a married woman named Mrs. Li who is convinced that her husband is cheating on her. She’s self-concious that it’s because of her aging looks, and seeks out Aunt Mei (Bai Ling), a local chef who has women all over town coming to eat her “special” dumplings. Mrs. Li gets hooked on them, even after finding out the secret ingredient. Only problem is that she also becomes downright obsessed with consuming them, to the point where the ending sequence in the movie in is about as stomach-turning as they come folks.
So what’s in the dumplings? Think about it for a second and then I’ll let you guess. Ok – done? Blurt out what you think is in the dumplings. What? Mushrooms? You’re waaaaaay off. Ketchup? That doesn’t even make any sense. Ok – grab your barf bags because the secret ingredient in Aunt Mei’s famous dumplings is: aborted babies! Yeah – they took it there. As sick as it is, Dumplings is actually compelling and extremely well done filmmaking. It’s just a question on whether or not you can get past the subject matter. There is a full feature version as well, but I’ve only seen the short associated with Three… Extremes, and honestly am not sure I could take in a full 90 minutes of it. Ok, so there you go. Just don’t blame me when you’re looking sideways at those freshly cooked dumplings the next time you’re at your favorite Asian restaurant.