Three Extremes. I remember reading back in 2008, when I did the review for Three Extremes, that Dumplings had been made into a full length feature. Here it is almost 5 years later, and I'm just now getting around to it.
Mrs. Lee (Miriam Yeung Chin Wah) is looking for something to help her restore her youth. After trying many different things, her search has lead her to Aunt Mei (Bai Ling), who has a very special kind of dumpling. Mei, who claims to be much older than she looks, says that while her dumplings are very expensive, they will give Mrs. Lee her youth back. We don't know for sure what is inside the dumplings at first, but it soon to be revealed that they are aborted babies. Mrs. Lee wants the attention of her husband (Tony Leung Ka Fai) because he cheats on her all the time with younger women. While Mrs. Lee isn't really all that old, in her 30's, she is willing to take the plunge and eat the dumplings. When she feels she isn't getting young fast enough, she asks Mei to find the most powerful out there, which Mei claims to be a 5 month old. When a girl and her mother comes to Mei and pleads for Mei to abort the 5 month old in the daughter, will Mei risk it to help Mrs. Lee?
I don't remember how the original short ended, but some things changed from the short to the long version. I don't recall ever meeting Mr. Lee in the short, but we do here. He eats his own weird thing, which from what I read is something that is actually eaten by people, duck still in the egg. Trust me, it looks nasty. The ending was also different, which I guess should be expected. Don't want to full length film to be a complete copy of the short after all. I thought that the short version worked better. There wasn't much plot to fill this into a full length film. It is mostly Mrs. Lee going to Mei and eating dumplings. I guess the main difference is watching Mrs. Lee going from being curious about the dumplings, but being disgusted by what is in them, to completely accepting it. I hate to throw out what is in the dumplings, but I see no other way around it for this review. It was much easier not to spoil it in the review for the short. However, it isn't like they keep it a secret for very long anyway.
Things get interesting when it looks like things aren't going as planned for Mrs. Lee. Everything is coming together the way she wants them to but things start to go south. It was a nice change of pace for the film, helped mix things up some. I was starting to get excited by the film, since it was starting to get a little boring by this point. The reason for things starting to go wrong is never really explained or explored though. It just happens and Mei half ass waves it off and that is that. I wished that writer Pik Wah Li or director Fruit Chan had gone further with this. There was too many interesting possibilities to just let it drop like they did.
There wasn't much as far as special effects go. There are the babies of course, not that we see much of them. There is also a child birth scene. Don't know how real it looks since I have never given birth, and can't say I have ever watched one before. The acting by Miriam Yeung Wah and Bai Ling was very good. I guess my only real complaint about the acting was that Miriam Yeung Wah came across as pretty cold most of the time.
I don't want to discourage anyone from giving Dumplings a try. Even if it does get a little boring because it seems to go on for too long, the "eww" factor remains through the whole film. It doesn't matter if it really does restore ones youth, which it apparently does (for the story anyway), I just don't see how anyone could bring themselves to eating actual babies. I could be wrong, but I only seem to recall one other person coming to Mei for her dumplings. Well...two but the other person finds out through Mrs. Lee. Mrs. Lee had to hear it from someone, but we never find out who. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it would have been nice to seen others trying this as well. Anyway, Dumplings wasn't a great film for me, but the constant reminder of what is in the dumplings still made me squirm all through the film.
3 out of 5 At least I have never tried to eat anything that weird