DUMPLINGS (2004) – it would be hard to find another Chinese movie from the past 20 years that seems as destined to become a horror classic as Dumplings. Starting out as a short segment in the anthology film, Three…Extremes, director Fruit Chan took his 40 minute short and turned it into this feature that is absolutely chilling. Miriam Yeung plays an actress rapidly edging into middle age and losing her husband’s interest. She goes to Aunt Mei (Bai Ling), an organic chef who learned a lot of very special recipes in China that provide health benefits to her favorite customers. The solution to Miriam’s aging problem? Some delicious dumplings made of human fetus. Even worse: they work. But how to get the raw material Aunt Mei needs?
With beautiful photography from Christopher Doyle (almost all of Wong Kar-wai’s movies), directed with an admirable sense of restraint, this is a highwater mark for all involved. Miriam Yeung convincingly plays a woman almost 20 years older than herself, and Tony Leung Kar-fai is wonderful as her redneck wealthy husband, but it’s Miss CrazyPants herself, Bai Ling, who really turns in a performance for the ages. The make-up is great and the gore is handled delicately, mostly indicated through sound effects, but there when it needs to be there. Although this print is missing about 55 seconds from the end (a quick scene from the past that makes the proceedings that much more heartbreaking – not sure why it was removed) this is a horror movie that will stick with you for a long time to come. (Watch it!)