What would you give to reclaim your youth? What price beauty?
Qing Li would appear to have everything, as an ex-starlette,
she has married a wealthy man, however things never stay the
same and when she thinks that her husband is having an affair
she decides that the only way to keep him is to reclaim her
youth, but at what cost. Through her connections she finds
Aunt Mei who promises that her dumplings can give her what
she wants, but are the results worth swallowing Mei's secret
Dumplings (Gaau ji) is the seventh film directed
by Fruit Chan, who is a well respected indie horror film maker,
and is one hell of a sick chick-flick horror movie. It is
a 91 min extended version of a previously available short
in the Three Extremes collection. The film won Best
Cinematography and Best Screenplay at the Hong Kong Film Awards.
It is less of a "I see dead babies movie", more
of a "Can I have chips with it?". This is sensuality
at its twisted best.
acting throughout the film is faultless with the vast majority
of the film having to be carried by Ling Bai, who also appeared
in Star Wars: Episode III, playing the garish Mei and
Tony Leung Ka Fai playing the initially staid Mrs Li, who
through the use of the dumplings finds herself revitalised
both personally and sexually, but at what price?
The soundscape of the film really adds to its unnerving feel.
It's hard to explain in print, but great wrenching noises
like the sound of a million dammed souls rattle the fillings
from your mouth - first time I heard it everybody in the room
jumped. Every nuance of sound is used to unsettle you from
the metallic sound of the chopper on the board to the visceral
sounds of Li consuming the dumplings, a sound which had the
unpleasant effect of turning my stomach.
Visually the film is just as disturbing; I for one will never
eat dumplings again. I'm not sure what was more unsettling
watching Mei prepare the foetuses, for the dumplings, or the
way that Li is happy to swap the best recipes for their preparation.
Even some of the more normal scenes, and I use the phrase
with some reservation, like the abortion just adds to the
whole desire to watch the film with your hand over your eyes.
from the horror aspect of the film, and it has this in droves,
the film is really more of a black comedy examining vanity
and the lengths that some women will go to in order to hang
on to their increasingly elusive youth. This type of film
is never going to be to everybody's taste but if you like
your social commentary served up in a sick bag you're going
to love this. It's the sort of film that Hollywood would be
terrified of making, all the more reason to watch it.
The print appears to be a perfect transfer and is presented
in Cantonese/Mandarin with English subtitles. The audio options
are generous giving you the choice of stereo, 5.1 or DTS.
On the extras front you get the original trailer, a bunch
of Tartan trailers, and a twenty-three min English language
interview with Bai Ling (Mei).