Wickedly delicious and sinfully satisfying, Fruit Chan’s seventh film is a delightful and squirm-inducing voyage through the slippery-slope, nightmarish perils of vanity. Featuring Bai Ling, Miriam Yeung, and Tony Leung Kar-fai, and the sumptuous cinematography of Christopher Doyle, DUMPLINGS is a film sure to delight, shock and offend.
Mei (Ling) is a trashy, former abortion doctor who shuttles back and forth across the HK-China border with benign-looking containers of glistening dumplings. Bound not for the family dinner table, these dumplings are of a special sort, and the preferred meal of a high-paying clientele who seek their famed youth-renewing powers. Qing (Yeung) is a nearing-40 former soap actress clinging to her youth and attempting to win back her philandering husband (Leung), who sucks down chicken fetuses in an attempt to maintain his own vigor. Regular meals at Mei’s apartment only whet her appetite for eternally smooth skin, and trigger an ominous search for an even more potent variety of the dumplings’ secret ingredient.
The ingredient in question, while appalling, is only a warm-up to the twisted moral and cosmic consequences that result from the ethical-boundary-free rules that govern their universe. In his best film to date, Chan masterfully holds a mirror up to the increasingly frightening world around us, and pushes all the right buttons.