Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Film Review: Dumplings (2004)

Dumplings (Review)
China/2004
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

Mrs. Li is a retired actress who is losing her good looks and has a broken relationship with her husband. In order to repair her life and regain her youth, Li visits Aunt Mei, a chef who cocks "special" dumplings. Li fully understands and consumes the special rejuvenating ingredient in Mei's dumplings - unborn fetuses. However, Li is not patient and wants to consume the most potent ingredient... a 5 month old fetus.

The story in Dumplings is dreadfully disturbing. The worst part is: it's completely believable considering the many food scandals that go on today. The story really speaks about society, and our obsession with youth and aesthetics; what would you do to stay young forever? It starts immediately as Mei picks up the unborn fetuses and feeds them to Li, as if it were a regular practice. Mei, herself, claims to be proof of the special fetus-filled dumplings. You won't be able to guess how old she really is. The story continues to show Li's disturbing appetite for beauty, although she does often battle with the morality of her actions. We also see Mr. Li's obsession with younger woman and his personal appetite for other odd food. The story reaches the pinnacle of chilling when Li requests a 5 month fetus. The origin and the method of acquiring this fetus becomes all-too-real and the aftermath is bone-crushing. The ending is equally chilling and sinister.

The story is more of a disturbing drama than a horror, in my opinion. I won't look at dumplings the same way, but I'll be able to sleep at night. The film really works because it is believable; there have been many food scandals in China recently that add to the chilling realism of the film. (of course, I have nothing against China and its many delicacies.) The story is an extended version of a short film in Three... Extremes. It worked very well as a short story, but I did like the extra detail and story in this film. However, despite both ending being disturbing, the short film version takes the dumpling as most disturbing and effective.

The acting is great from the entire cast. Bai Ling plays Mei and Miriam Yeung plays Mrs. Li; both plays their characters perfectly, Miriam Yeung becomes more and more sinister throughout the film, which I really enjoyed. The special effects, particularly the bloody fetuses, were very realistic; the sound effect of a crunching dumpling is also chilling. The music was great in this film, matching the overall tone and setting of the film.

Overall, Dumpling is a very disturbing and effective drama; so effective it can justifiably be classified as a horror film. The disturbing subject matter, the chilling details (did you know a 5 month old fetus is the most potent and rejuvenating), and the crunching and consumption is extremely cringe-worthy. I highly recommend for fans of disturbing dramas and horror films, a rental otherwise.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some blood, 3 sex scenes (no notable nudity)

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