I thought I had seen some things in this world. I've seen poop served for dinner, a woman getting raped with a rock, someone's mouth sewn to someone else's ass, and a homeless man with no pants on--but dumplings made out of aborted fetuses may take the cake.
As of now I have only seen the short version of Dumplings as seen on the Three Extremes that you can watch on Netflix. I'm thinking the short version is all I will need to see but if you think differently let me know and I'll find someway to fix that. The film is about Mrs. Li, who desires nothing more than to get her youth back. She finds herself at Auntie Mei's, who makes expensive dumplings with a secret ingredient. The secret ingredient is aborted fetuses and despite her general distaste at the procedure, Mrs. Li eats them up willingly. It is not long however before Mrs. Li starts noticing some unpleasant side effects.
If you think Dumplings may skirt around the fact that there are unborn fetuses being cut up for dumpling fillings---think again. Almost immediately, Dumplings shoves a fetus into your face. We see its little beady eye being smushed as the giant meat cleaver cuts into its flesh. I don't consider myself very squeamish but for some reason these scenes left me feeling extremely sick. I'm guessing it has to do with how horrible the whole premise is. I kind of felt like I was watching one of those awful Pro-life films that some crazy person holding a sign outside of Planned Parenthood might show me after kidnapping me.
In fact I kind of felt like I was watching an entire statement on Pro-Life, which I don't think is really the case here but thanks to how abortion is such a touchy subject here, I think most of the Americans who watch this will get that sense. Dumplings of course I believe is more about the extreme measures people will go to attain youthfulness. It's much more of a commentary on vanity than it is abortion. Abortion is legal in China and is actually a government service thanks to the One Child policy.
What makes Dumplings so hard to swallow (heheheh) is that it is actually an extremely decent film, laden with some beautiful camera work and some highly interesting themes. This makes me want to watch it again, but I'm unsure that my morning oatmeal will stay snuggled inside of my stomach safely. Dumplings is highly disturbing due to this very unforgiving portrait of dead fetuses being shoved in our face. It is safe to say the film will end up on my ultimate disturbing movies list, and pretty close to the top at that. I have a feeling I will be trying to get through the daily motions of my life and this will just come bouncing into my thoughts. I'll want to tell someone normal about it and it will plague me till I do. And then, when I do tell someone, they will hate me and think I'm the devil.
The disturbing aspect survives in many different areas. We have the little fetuses being chopped up like pieces of pork. We have Mrs. Li eating the dumplings where the sound effects are amplified to the nines, allowing us to hear every little bone being crushed and her lips smacking. We have a teenage girl getting an abortion in Auntie Mei's kitchen sink. An abortion where the father was also the grandfather--a fetus that provides very "potent" dumplings because of its cursed nature. That abortion scene in particular is very difficult to watch and more so because the camera never pulls away.
We see that baby plop out and then we see it on a serving tray later. We also later see the young girl going home on the bus and leaving a very messy seat for the next gentleman to sit down in.
And then we see the after math of the young girl.
I must make it very clear, there is nothing "suggestive" about Dumplings--- it is all there as clear as day.
The ending gets under your skin in the sickest of ways. It is the ultimate weight that sets the how far we will go to be young again scale off of its mark. It's powerful, and it's disgusting and probably one of the most disturbing things I've seen in my life so far. It's had me thinking about it all day and night. I mean....fetuses! Those were fetuses on that cutting board! I start thinking about horrible things...like what a fetus tastes like, and what exactly was happening inside of Mrs. Li's body to make her dinner guests comment on the strange "fishy" smell around them (*barf*).
Normally I would say a film like Dumplings is primarily used for gross out purposes, but I really don't feel like that is the case here. I think there is much, much more to be gained from a film like this, which is why it is truly disturbing to me. When there's a point to the madness things become real and very terrifying. And to answer your question, no I will never eat a dumpling again. Which is upsetting to me because I really, really like Chinese food.
Watch this clip only if you feel you must. And I must point out, the version I saw was much more revealing in that fetus chopping.