Dumplings (Jiao zi) (2004)

Disgusting and disturbing Asian horror.
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Dumplings - Disgusting and Disturbing Asian Horror

Fruit Chan brings us a disgusting slice of twisted Asian horror with Dumplings (Gaau ji). A lot of attention has gone into this movie to make it gag-worthy and it definitely is, but we also have a highly original and well executed storyline depicting a scenario bordering on potential reality far from the supernatural and superstitious horror we have come to associate with Eastern horror.

An ex-actress, Mrs Li, is living the life of luxury with her wealthy husband but Mrs Li is beginning to feel her age and her philandering husband cannot leave the younger ladies alone. Mrs. Li seeks the help of an ex-abortion doctor turned local chef named Aunt Mei (played by Bai Ling) who claims to cook rejuvenating dumplings able to reverse the ageing process. Determined to regain he youthful looks Mrs. Li visits Aunt Mei and indulges it the luxuriously expensive delicacy fully aware of the secret ingredient.

Soon Mrs. Li has regained her youthful looks, her self-confidence and the lust of her husband, but the effects of the dumplings are short lived and her reliance on Aunt Mei's special recipe becomes like an addiction. Needing a more potent dose of the revitalizing, Mrs. Li is willing to go to extreme lengths to source the miraculous component. As luck would have it Aunt Mei is due a delivery of the most potent and freshest form of the ingredient and soon gets to work cooking her delicacy.

Overhearing a conversation between his wife and Aunt Mei, Mrs. Li's husband decides to drop in on the culinary magician only to be seduced by her beauty. Even when he discovers that Aunt Mei is in her sixties, he cannot resist her youthful looks maintained by a diet of her famous dumplings.

After the incident with Mrs. Li's husband Aunt Mei refuses to provide any more dumplings By now Mrs. Li knows the recipe and uses one of her husbands paramours (who is now pregnant with his child) to source the necessary element.

The secret ingredient is far from secret throughout the movie but it is so unbelievable that you assume that you have got it wrong until the realisation that you are not wrong slaps you in the face and the true horror of the previous hour kicks in. The movie has been directed in a way that makes you not want to believe your suspicions and I found the second viewing a totally different, more gut-wrenching experience than the first. Mrs. Li is fully aware of what the dumplings are made of but is so desperate to regain her youth that she is willing to go through anything. There is a lot of attention to the eating in this movie with loud and close up shots of Mrs. Li forcing down the dumplings whilst Aunt Mei bounces around singing as if her recipe is totally acceptable.

Don't watch this movie... watch it twice, I guarantee that even the most hardcore horror movie fan will not be able to watch this movie without the occasional grimace. There is no excessive gore and there is little violence or even scariness but this is definitely a full-on horror.

Get yourself a plate of dumplings, settle down in front of the TV and enjoy Fruit Chan's masterpiece.
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Categories: Asian Horror Movies
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