Sin can be defined as the act of committing an offense or violation of moral or religious law. There are seven deadly sins. A deadly sin is one in which the act of the sin is so great that forgiveness must be pleaded. Three…Extremes takes the act of the deadly sin and weaves a horrifying trilogy of terrors.
Featuring the talents of three of Asia’s foremost masters of shock, Takashi Miike, Park Chan-Wook and Fruit Chan, this anthology is destined to push the envelope of propriety and rebirth the postmodern horror film. Each episode runs approximately 40 minutes and is intentionally striving to stun its audience with the sinister psyches of its twisted cast of characters.
At the outset, Hong Kong director Fruit Chan (Public Toilet) presents the tale of Ching (Miriam Yeung Chin Wah), an ex-Television star, whose insatiable need to attain the beauty of eternal youth brings about unspeakable consequences.
Ching’s desires to turn back the hands of time, leads her to the door of Aunt Mei (Bai Ling). Aunt Mei offers the promise of an ageless splendor through the delicacy of her splendid dumplings. From the opening frames of the story, the viewer is left with no doubt as to the wicked nature of the dumplings secret. Chan certainly intends to redefine what could be considered; pardon the pun, good taste, with his meditation on Pride.
The sin of pride is that which hides the hideousness of ones true face with the façade of a flawless porcelain mask. Ching’s fate is sealed as the final unspeakable scene of this tale unfolds. A scene, I might add, that will leave even the most austere viewer ill at ease.
Director Chan has succeeded in taking a cultures obsession with youth from satirical social commentary to the height of repulsion in what can only be described as the most voracious of the Three…Extremes.
The weakest installment in the trilogy is that of director Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy). Wrath is the sin of a disgruntled movie extra (Won-hie Lim) who takes it upon himself to teach a pampered director (Byung-hun Lee) and his wife (Jung-ah Yum) a lesson in humility. Borrowing a concept from Saw, the Director is forced to make a choice between the unthinkable and the unbearable.
The premise is simple, but the execution of the film is lifeless at best and almost comedic at worst. In fact, the twisted humor that fills the screen does little to serve the story and unfortunately works to undermine any tension the film may have had ultimately making Chan-Wook’s episode an unsatisfying installment in what would otherwise have been a perfect trinity.
The final episode in this collection belongs to the irrepressible Takashi Miike (Audition). Miike’s film Box tells the story of Kyoko (Kyoko Hasegawa), a young author who is plagued by her memory of the tragedy that befell her twin sister. Former acrobats in their youth, Kyoko’s jealousy of her twin, leads to a stunning revelation that is sure to have the audience question every frame of the preceding film.
Miike shows considerable restraint in this visually stunning and morose fairy tale, blanketing the film in the duality of deep reds set against a harsh winter backdrop. The film as an illustration of resentment works as deeply on a visceral level as on a visual one, encompassing not only the sin of envy, but also that of lust. Fans expecting Miike’s trademark over-the-top blood feast will be in for quite a surprise, as Miike focuses wholly on the layered story of one woman’s struggle to come to grips with her past.
If Box were the only story in the trilogy to have a lasting impact on the viewer, I would consider Three…Extremes to be one of this year’s premier entries in the bastion of horror classics. However, Chan’s contribution is in many ways a constant equal with the work of Miike. Notwithstanding the middle segment, Three…Extremes is a masterpiece of visual majesty that leaves the audience breathless for reasoning and resonating with terror.