Saturday, August 11, 2012
I'm gonna be honest. I think Asian countries do horror alot better than America does, for the most part at least. I think it's because countries like Korea and Japan have such a higher tolerance for messed up stuff. I Saw the Devil is one of the greatest movies about a serial killer I have ever seen, and yet that movie probably would of never been made in America because of how disturbing it is.
Anyway, in 2002 a horror film came out called Three. It was comprised of three different segments from three different famous Asian directors from different countries: Kim Ji-Woon, the director of I Saw the Devil, (South Korea), Nonzee Nimibutr, known for his horror film Nang Nak (Thailand), and Peter Chan, surprisingly known for romance and action movies, (China). I haven't actually seen Three, but this was just background info.
Three...Extremes was released in 2004. Not being a direct sequel to Three since, you know that movie is just 3 segments that have nothing to do with one another, rather it follows the same idea, by taking three famous directors from Asian cinema and having each one directing a 40 minute horror segment. The directors are Fruit Chan (China), who is pretty respected in his country, but I have personally never seen anything else by him.Chan Wook-Park (South Korea) who is my favorite director, I pretty much love everything he does. Takashi Miike (Japan), who I love for his insanely unique visual style and his almost unparallelled diversity, seriously he's made splatter movies like Ichi the Killer (which I love), straight up almost porn movies like Visitor Q (weird movie, I think he was trying to make some sort of statement, but I was to weirded out by the incest and what not), to family movies like Zebraman (its weird, but freaking awesome).
The first segment is Fruit Chan's "Dumplings". Personally I find the three segments to all be completely different kinds of horror films. With Chan's being the disturbingly gross kind. You know movies like Hostel. Except its not really a splatter film, its just extremely messed up...okay maybe its nothing like Hostel...not sure where I was going with this. Anywho, the segment is about an aging actress Mrs. Li (Miriam Yeung) who goes to Aunt Mei (Bai Ling) who cooks special dumplings that supposedly have a regenerative property. Its a great tale about the effects of aging, especially on celebrities, and the lengths people will go to retain their youth. I won't spoil the secret ingredient to the dumplings because its something that has to be watched to be properly disgusted by. Also the last shot of the movie is probably one of the most soul sucking depressing things ever.
The second segment is "Cut" by Korean director Chan Wook-Park. Again, keeping with the different kind of horror aspect, I personally think Park's reflects the realistic horror. Like its a bit of a far fetched concept, but can technically happen. It concerns the Director (Lee Byung-Hun) whos travels home only to be knocked out and wake up on a film set looking at the Stranger (Lim Won-hie) standing over him and his Wife (Kang Hye-jeong). You learn that the Stranger is a disgruntled extra who is mad at the Director for being seemingly perfect while he is a failure. Its a very well made film, what do you expect from Chan Wook-Park? There's alot of moments that you laugh at not really because they're particularly funny, but because you have to relieve the tension. Its again, a realistic approach to horror with the violence being gruesome, but not over the top. Its easily the best segment of the three.
The final segment "Box" hails from Japan and is directed by the mind-f*ck master himself, Takashi Miike. I'm gonna be completely honest right up front. I have absolutely no freaking idea what is happening in this segment. Something about twins, and an abusive father, there may or may not be incest or one of the twins gets burned in a fire or something. Seriously, its confusing as hell. and to top it off the ending doesn't really tell you anything. Its left open to what was real or not, but the whole thing is so surreal and bat shit insane that you have absolutely no idea what is happening. And it is genius. No, seriously, it is. You may have no idea what's happening, but that doesn't stop you from watching it. Its so strange and other worldly that you have no option but to continue in the hope that you'll figure something out. You probably won't, but its entertaining as hell and is the segment with the most horror aspect. Just straight up freaky crap happens in this part and very little of its explained but damn is it scary and weird. I don't want to give away much, but if your scared of Siamese twins like I am (I don't mean to offend Siamese twins but....damn they scare me) you'll be pretty terrified.
All in all Three...Extremes is a fantastic little gem of Asian horror. Each segment is about 40 minutes and lasts just long enough to unsettle you, but not too long to where you get used to the horror of it. The terror of each segment just builds and builds until it reaches its peak...and then it ends. Its perfect that way. As soon as you get used to the particular form of horror the segment is going for it ends and the next segment starts and scares you a completely different way. Whether its psychologically terrifying or realistically so, there's a segment for every kind of horror fan and each one works in its own right.