Three Extremes is an interesting release, a cross cultural Asian trilogy of short horror films. All of the movies are unique, each is beautifully made and they are all most definitely unsettling and shocking. With three of the most talented directors working today Fruit Chan, Takashi Miike and Chan-wook Park responsible you can expect something special.
The first of the tales is The Box, Takashi Miike´s effort from Japan. This is a very dark, brooding and chilling film about two performing sisters and their creepy father. We jump around in time as all their dark secrets come tumbling out. The film is well written and acted but the direction really stands out. Miike is able to create tension seemingly out of nothing; he builds a mood of intense foreboding very effectively, often in scenes which are visually fairly innocuous. The Box lasts around 40 minutes.
The second film is Cut from Korean director Chan-wook Park. This is a fascinating story about a director and his wife who get taken hostage by one of his extras. Dialogue driven and reminiscent of a play this is a fast paced and intelligent tale. Cut lasts a bit longer at around 50 minutes and amongst the craziness there are some great acting performances and some inventive direction.
The final part of the trilogy is Dumplings from the Chinese director Fruit Chan. This is a darkly comic tale and this 40 minute version has since been made into a full length feature film. A hauntingly dark idea at its core about a rather gruesome way of staying young, this film is full of character. Once again this is well written and acted. The direction is also excellent, it feels fresh and slick and Chan really gets the most from his actors.
Chan-wook Park (Joint Security Area, Old Boy) and Takashi Miike (Audition, Gozu) have made some of my favourite films and they don´t disappoint here. Both tales are well worth watching with awe inspiring direction which lingers in the memory. I´m less familiar with Fruit Chan but he´s clearly a talent too and Dumplings is the strongest of the films in terms of plot.
If you are looking for something different or an introduction to extreme Asian cinema this would be a good place to start, although it may be hard to track down. Three Extremes is a fantastic curiosity but be warned it´s worthy of the name and not for the faint-hearted.