Dumplings (2004)

Dumplings (Chinese: 餃子 Jiǎozi) was one of the films Dell over Dell on Movies picked for his entry of the non-English language themed week of the Thursday Movie Picks series. It sounded interesting great so I decided to check it out. 

The film is set in Hong Kong and follows Mrs. Li (Miriam Yeung), a once-famous TV actress who is losing her good looks and her husband (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) with them as he's having an affair with a much younger and attractive woman (Pauline Lau). In order to rejuvenate, she seeks the help of Aunt Mei (Bai Ling), a retired gynaecologist now famous for her dumplings with a mysterious ingredient that can restore youth.

It's a pretty basic plot with a few gruesome twists that don't come off as surprising as you can almost sense right from the start what's the secret ingredient in Aunt Mei's dumplings --I figured it was human meat right away, but it took me a little longer to realise it actually was unborn babies.

It's fine though as Dumplings is not a film built on surprise and suspense but a film whose purpose is to show that we as a society are obsessed with youth and how far we are willing to go to achieve it. The special ingredient of the dumplings isn't the disturbing aspect of the film, but the fact that people go against the law but especially morals to appear is. It's yet another movie that highlights the fact that we live in a society that values more external than internal beauty.

And the character of Mrs. Li, along with the performance from Miriam Yeung, is perfect to embody that. It's hard to believe though that Mrs. Li would go through so much to get her husband back since he is nothing but your typical rich, middle-aged, unfaithful man whose favourite hobby is drooling over young women. In other words, the guy doesn't have any redeeming quality whatsoever. Which is why it was a smart choice to cast Tony Leung Ka-Fai as he is quite charming. However, the stand out is Bai Ling as Aunt Mei. She gives such an excellent and compelling performance and manages to carry the film pretty well.

Lions Gate Films
At last, there's the cinematography by Christopher Doyle (2046), the aspect of Dumplings that stands out the most. There are some out-of-focus shots that are just beautiful; the lighting gives the film a very mysterious look; the bright, lush colours make it quite unforgettable.

Ultimately, Dumplings is not your typical horror movie as it doesn't have monsters, gore, jump scares or what else you would find in a horror movie, but it still qualifies as one because of the disturbing and disgusting subject and the way is handled, it being a touch of dark humour.


  1. This plot reminds me of an old Twilight Zone episode starring Ann Blyth as a film star who has been able to keep her looks and a reporter wants to know why...poor schmuck. I wouldn't mind seeing this movie but i don't think I can since I have no Netflix or anything like that.

    1. I'm not even sure it's on Netflix to be honest.

  2. I saw a short version of the film as part of an anthology film series in Three... Extremes that included entries by Takashi Miike and Chan-wook Park as all three shorts are fun to watch.

    1. I'm planning on watching the other two as well.