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T500FC, 395th: Three… Extremes [Sam Gang Yi] (Fruit Chan, Takashi Miike, Chan-wook Park, 2004)

April.3.2011

One of the celebrated Asian films in the past decade with three segments that boasts awesome directors from three different countries: Fruit Chan, Park Chan-wook, and Takashi Miike. Three Extremes is not your ordinary film since it follows the area of extreme or brutal horror that feasted on mainstream cinema during the turn of the century, and this time the Eastern counterparts provide the stories. Its concept came from the 2002 film, Three, a much weaker approach to the horror genre.

The first segment features Box, a story of twins who are part of a circus attraction. With their handler having an obsession to the two, it goes from bad to worse when one of the twins had a mishap in one of the boxes used for the circus. The second segment features Dumplings, a story of an aging actress who wants to restore her youthful looks; where the husband had lost interest in her. She looks for the best anti-aging solution and finds one in the slums the cooks a specially created dumpling; in a sense a very special version of the said food. And the last segment features Cut, a crazy game created by a crazy person who tortures a director by cutting off the fingers of a woman if the director wouldn’t kill a young girl by asphyxiating her.

I know I’ve seen the segment dumplings years ago. I initially thought that it was Three… Extremes all along. I was wrong. I found out that what I saw was a long version of the segment, implementing a longer storyline and side stories for the stars of the film. But I have to say that the moment I finished watching it, it still gave me the same barf-induced feeling. It was that wonderful.

The first one looked weak for me; I was surprised that Miike directed that segment. Though it feels that it was a different approach on the genre, showing a very slow-paced version without the cringe-benefits that Miike was able to enjoy showing such as Audition and Ichi The Killer. Nevertheless, the segment was still enjoyable and sort of predictable at the same time.

The last one was the most interesting of the bunch, since I’ve managed to live my life thinking of dumplings already. Imagine, as early as 2004, Chan-wook has been treating his viewers the various brain-drain approach, where he constantly surprise you with the different techniques in film torture. I definitely liked the climax it was surprisingly good.

So, if ever I get to have a chance to suggest a film to someone who loves the horror genre, I would definitely include this film in his or her suggested list. It was one of the best I’ve seen from the past decade. I have to warn everyone that this film is not for everyone though.

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