Three... Extremes (R)
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This is actually three separate short films (total runtime 118 minutes), each made in a different Asian country by different directors, actors, etc. It came out in 2004, two years after another trio of short films called "Three," but since this was released internationally first, when the earlier film was later distributed internationally, it was renamed "Three Extremes II." I haven't seen that yet, but I do have the DVD, so I'll get to it eventually. ...When I first watched this DVD, I didn't feel the need to see any of these films again. Didn't enjoy any of the stories as much as I hoped I might, nor did I find any of them particularly scary. It's all disturbing stuff, though, and rather interesting to think about. Honestly, there's nothing wrong with the films at all, and objectively I expect they're actually better than my initial impression of them. (I always figured they were the kind of things I'll likely remember, and some years later might feel a sort of desire to see them again. And I was right, so now, years later, I regret selling the DVD, though it wouldn't be hard for me to find another copy.)
Dumplings (the Hong Kong Extreme)
A former actress named Mrs. Li is now married to some rich guy, and she wants to regain her youth to keep him interested. Personally I don't understand it, I thought she looked young and attractive enough, certainly she seemed younger than her husband. But anyway, she goes to see a woman called Aunt Mei (Bai Ling), who makes special dumplings that are supposed to make women look younger after they've eaten them. Anyway, I never found the story particularly scary, just deeply disturbing and wrong.
Cut (the Korea Extreme)
A successful movie director, Ryu Ji-Ho, returns home from work one night, and is taken hostage by an extra who worked in all of his films, though Ryu didn't recognize him at first. Ryu's wife, a pianist, is rather elaborately tied up to her piano, and Ryu is also restrained rather oddly. The man behind this does some talking, and actually he can be rather funny at times, but ultimately he's just plain nuts. He seems to be pissed at Ryu for being a good man. Like it isn't fair that he should be so rich and handsome and have such a great life... and also be nice, while the extra is unsuccessful and miserable and not particularly good-looking, and can't even be a nice guy, himself. So he doesn't even have that. Well, like I said, he's nuts. And he's brought a child along, who is also tied up, and demands Ryu strangle the child to death, thus proving he's not really a good man, otherwise he'll cut off Ryu's wife's fingers, one every five minutes. So... it's a plenty gory film, and Ryu's attempts to deal with this bizarre situation are rather interesting, but still I didn't care for it that much, I guess.
Box (the Japan Extreme)
This is about woman named Kyoko, who is a successful novelist. But she always has this weird dream where she's trapped, wrapped in plastic and buried underground in a box, where she can't breathe. And we gradually see flashbacks to an incident when she was 10 years old, and performing in an odd act with her twin sister Shoko, which involved a bit of ballet and a bit of magic, and the two girls would be locked by the magician in separate boxes. Anyway, I guess the young girls both loved the man, and Kyoko thought he only loved her sister, and was jealous, and one night accidentally caused her sister to die in a fire while locked in the box. She's haunted by this memory, and eventually is forced to confront it directly. But then as the story reaches its climax, she once again awakes from the dream, and... there's a very odd twist, which I wouldn't want to spoil, but I'm sure it gives the dream some sort of deep psychological meaning, which is probably best left not too deeply dwelt upon....