I couldn't be more satisfied with this Asian horror anthology. I hadn't previously seen any Fruit Chan films, but his "Dumplings" is a deeply disturbing spin on the old fountain of youth formula. It's clearly has an anti-abortion slant, but I think American reviewers calling it "misogynistic" are missing its relevance to infanticide in the history of Chinese culture. Besides, the screenplay was written by a woman, so it's hardly a case of men "ganging up on" women.
Cinematography by Christopher Doyle never hurts.
The last two are where it really gets exciting, in my opinion. Park Chan-wook's "Cut" has a similar scenario to any number of manipulative (some would say sadistic, but I object) films like Audition, Phonebooth, and most recently Saw. It plays out in a completely unique manner that is characteristic of Park's other films, both aesthetically and thematically. From the brilliantly ornate opening tracking shot on, there is a quality of endless invention that is so thrilling to watch. Much of this is in the humor; while "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" was completely downbeat and punishing, "Oldboy" introduced a totally fresh gallows humor into ultraviolent revenge films. This is further developed in "Cut", as Park draws laughs and delicious irony out of the bleakest situations. I can't think of another filmmaker with quite this twisted a sense of humor who still makes it serve theme and narrative; some of the Coen bros. darker films have similar moments, especially "Blood Simple" and "Fargo". More could be said, but this film is all about the ride, and words seem to cheapen it.
Takashi Miike's "Box" is stunning, and, along with "Audition", proves his stature as one of the great horror directors of the last few decades. It's a great Miike introduction for those with weak stomachs, as there is very little blood in it. It has some things in common with other J-horror ghost stories, but it's much, much better and more artfully creepy than the majority of the films in that genre. It moves fluidly between reality (or at least the appearance of it), dream, and flashback (again, whether the "past" actually occurred is debatable). There is an image at the end wraps things up in a viscerally shocking way that could only be rendered through cinema.
In the case of the last two, I would say that "Cut" and "Box" are on par with the best of the directors' work, and are easily the most exciting thing happening in the horror genre these days.