Dumplings is a Hong Kong film in Chinese with English subtitles. It’s available on Amazon Prime. The premise: A beautiful former actress (Miriam Yeung) in her mid-thirties feels her rich husband’s (Tony Leung) attentions waning. She seeks youthful rejuvenation in Aunt Mei’s (Bai Ling) famous black market dumplings. Since you find out in the opening scene, I will tell you what’s in the dumplings: aborted human fetuses. First trimester fetuses are very nutritious, but the most powerful rejuvenation powers come with second-trimester babies. These are, however, more difficult to acquire. Icky shit ensues.
What makes a horror movie? I asked myself this question a few times as I watched this film. Several times I found myself thinking “This isn’t scaring me.” But does a horror film need to scare you? Or just horrify you? Because I wasn’t scared but I was definitely horrified. This film is gory as fuck. You will see shit you never wanted to see and may never forget. But, this film is not about abortion, really. It’s about an imbalance of power between men and women. About how far a woman will go to hang on to her meal ticket. Does Mrs. Li really love Mr. Li? Or is she just afraid of being cast aside for a 20-year-old? As Aunt Mei says “Every man wants to fuck a 20-year-old body.” What depths will Mrs. Li sink to, what crimes will she command and commit to regain her youth? None of these characters are even a tiny bit likeable. This film was disgusting but compelling, but one aspect that felt forced was the sex scenes. I get that the filmmaker (Fruit Chan. I’m sorry, I laughed every time I saw it) was equating sex with youth/vitality, but it was sort of unnecessary. And though Tony Leung was crazy-hot in The Lover in 1992, now he has white hair and is not so bangable. But maybe that’s the point. Men stay attractive forever? Or money makes them fuckable? Mr Li basically fucks everyone in this film…as if he’s the only man in Hong Kong. I don’t know, maybe he’s the George Clooney of Hong Kong film. Anyway, this film is worth a watch if you can stomach fetal remains…so to speak.