Aging actress Mrs. Li wants to rejuvenate her youth and beauty to attract the attention of her husband, Li, who has secretly taken a mistress behind her back. She buys dumplings from Aunt Mei, a mysterious seller who claims to be much older than she appears. However, to her disgust, she learns that the dumplings are in fact made from aborted fetuses, which Mei takes from a nearby hospital that has a secret abortion facility, as well as working as an abortion midwife herself.
Nevertheless, Mrs. Li decides to continue eating the fetus dumplings. One of them, made from a five month old fetus (the 'oldest' of the aborted fetuses thus far), seems to have a positive effect on Mrs. Li's libido, yet it also causes her skin to exhibit a fishy smell. Eventually, Mei has to move out when the authorities are about to capture her. Mrs. Li, now two months pregnant despite being declared infertile earlier, is still desperate for a rejuvenation and chooses to abort her own fetus, presumably to make it into dumplings.
A successful film director has to face a night of misery when an extra, who appeared in five of his films, captures both him and his wife to play a deadly game. The director is instructed to strangle a girl the extra met while on the way, or else he will chop off his wife's fingers one by one every five minutes. The extra reveals that he kidnapped the couple because he is jealous that the director is able to be a rich and good man, while he is poor and abusive to his wife and son, the former of whom he murdered before the incident.
The director tries to buy time by telling stories of his infidelity, though the extra continues to chop the wife's fingers until only one is remaining in her left hand. The director ultimately decides to strangle the girl, who turns out to be the extra's son, but the extra is only stopped when he slips on the blood pouring from the wife's fingers. The wife then bites and slashes the extra's neck, leaving him bleeding to death. Left traumatized, the director, now believing his wife to be the extra's son and vice versa, strangles her to death.
Kyoko, a 25 years old novelist, frequently experiences nightmares of her past as a circus performer. Back when she was 10 years old, Kyoko worked in a circus with her twin sister, Shoko, and their benefactor, Higata. Kyoko felt that Higata was favoring Shoko over her when he praised her after a performance. When Shoko was training, Kyoko forced and locked her into a box. However, Higata watched the incident and tried to rescue her, only for Kyoko to scar him in the face and then accidentally set the box in flames. Since then, Kyoko is haunted with guilt and wants to apologize to her sister. She is also struck uncannily by her literature publisher, Yoshii, who is a doppelganger of Higata, except that he is more caring to her.
One day, Kyoko follows an invitation to her old circus, only to discover the box containing Shoko's burned remains. She is confronted by Higata, who is distraught after the incident and tells her that both Kyoko and Shoko are important to him, but only as one entity. After luring her into kissing him, he forces her into a plastic sack, fits it into a box, then buries it in the nearby snowy ground. However, it is revealed that the entire event of the film is just another dream of Kyoko, who in reality has been conjoined with Shoko since birth. The sisters exit the house to meet with Higata/Yoshii, both indeed the same person.Miriam Yeung as Mrs Li
Bai Ling as Mei
Pauline Lau as Li's maid
Tony Leung Ka-fai as Li
Meme Tian as Connie
Lee Byung-hun as Director
Im Won-hee as Stranger
Kang Hye-jung as Director's wife
Yum Jung-ah as actress in vampire role
Kyoko Hasegawa as Kyoko
Atsuro Watabe as Yoshii/Higata
Mai Suzuki as Young Kyoko
Yuu Suzuki as Young Shoko
Three... Extremes' first film Dumplings was extended and turned into a full-length theatrical film of the same name that was released into British cinemas by Tartan Films in the spring of 2006.
Three... Extremes was theatrically released on October 28, 2005 by Lionsgate. After its release on November 17, 2005, the film has grossed $77,532 in North America and $431,954 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $509,486.
Three...Extremes received generally positive reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an 84% approval rating based on 62 reviews, with an average rating of 6.8 out of 10; its consensus reads: "This anthology contains brutal, powerful horror stories by three of Asia's top directors." Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gave the film an average score of 66 out of 100 based on 22 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert praised the film by giving it 3½ stars out of 4, describing the films as "deeply, profoundly creepy", and he attributed their qualities to the works of famous horror writers Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King. The New York Times' Dana Stevens gave a positive review, writing: "Though Three Extremes [sic] may seem tame to jaded fans of what has been termed New Asian Horror, it serves as a fine introduction to the genre for those who are curious but squeamish." The Boston Globe's Ty Burr gave a favorable review, advising viewers to "fasten your seat belts for a bumpy ride -- narratively and artistically -- and don't go in on a full stomach."