Three Extremes

2/6/2006

threeextremesColor, R (mature themes, violence, language), 125 min., DVD only $27.98; Cantonese, Japanese, Korean and Mandarin with English subtitles. DVD: Takashi Miike’s commentary. Street: Feb. 28, Prebook: now. First Run: L, Oct. 2005, <$1 mil>. LIONSGATE

Directors: Fruit Chan, Park Chan-wook, Takashi Miike

Story Line: An anthology of horror tales, Three Extremes includes “Dumplings,” in which an aging actress (Yeung) discovers a secret delicacy that brings back her youth; “Cut,” in which a movie director (Byung-hung) is tormented by an angry extra (Hye-jung); and “Box,” in which a novelist (Hasegawa) is haunted by the spirit of her dead sister.

Bottom Line: This accurately titled film finds a trio of craftsmen trying to outdo each other in the arena of shock horror. Each entry has its own pace and mood, but all three end in a delirious manner and dote on nasty elements, from aborted fetuses to amputated fingers in a blender. Surprisingly, cult director and master of gross-out sequences Miike (Gozu) contributes the tamest and most genuinely scary episode, as his heroine in “Box” is confronted by jarringly composed images that reflect and distort her unhappy childhood. Chan-wook’s (Old Boy) “Cut” is an uncharacteristically unpleasant, sadistic bit of business that mixes dark humor and gradual dismemberment. “Dumplings” from Hong Kong director Chan was released as a feature-length horror pic in Asia, which could explain why it seems so infernally elliptical as a 38-minute short. But Extremes should do very well with Asian horror cultists and fans of the wildly prolific Miike. —Ed Grant