DUMPLINGS Director: FRUIT CHAN HONG KONG| 2004. SUBTITLED. COLOUR. DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO. 91 MIN. Book cinema tickets FIRST RELEASED IN A MUCH SHORTER FORM AS PART OF THE ANTHOLOGY HORROR FILM THREE . . . EXTREMES, THIS IS THE ORIGINAL, FULL-LENGTH VERSION OF MAVERICK HONG KONG DIRECTOR FRUIT CHAN’S DELICIOUSLY SUBVERSIVE DUMPLINGS. The film is based on a story by Lilian Lee, but you would never guess that it comes from the author of Farewell My Concubine. As Tony Rayns noted in Sight & Sound, this utterly merciless social satire is more like ‘Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal updated to post-Marxist realities. It lends itself equally to quite nuanced satire and to the hardcore gross-outs promised by the Three . . . Extremes package.’ Working with an excellent cast and production team (including ace cinematographer Christopher Doyle), Chan paints a highly unflattering picture of modern China. The central character, Mei (the extraordinary Bai Ling), is a former abortionist from the lawless frontier town of Shenzhen who now operates from a shabby flat in Kowloon, selling dumplings which have a miraculous rejuvenating effect. One of Mei’s best clients is Li Qing (Miriam Yeung), an ageing TV star clinging to her youth and attempting to win back her philandering husband (Tony Leung Ka Fai), who sucks down chicken foetuses in an attempt to maintain his own vigour. Chang has much fun playing with the cliches of the food movie. Sumptuous images of the dough-wrapped delicacies and of Qing’s ever-smoother, ever-younger skin are undercut by our fears about the secret ingredient. The film wastes little time in confirming these fears, and there’s even the implication that the whole disgusting practice is a by-product of China’s ‘one-child’ policy.Peter Walsh. Director: FRUIT CHAN HONG KONG| 2004. SUBTITLED. COLOUR. DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO. 91 MIN.