Dumplings (2004) - full transcript

In Hong Kong, Aunt Mei is a cook famous for her home-made rejuvenation dumplings, based on a millenarian recipe prepared with a mysterious ingredient that she brings directly from China. The former TV star Mrs. Li visits Mei aiming her dumplings to recover her youth and become attractive again to her wolf husband Mr. Li. Along the sessions, Mei tells Mrs. Li that she was a gynecologist in China with more than 30,000 abortions along ten years. When Mrs. Li requests an acceleration of the process, the opportunity comes when a fifteen years old teenager with a five months incestuous pregnancy comes with her mother and asks Mei to make an abortion.

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Mrs. Li? You're so beautiful.

They say your dumplings
are the most expensive.

Of course! Please come in.

You've come at the right time.

The water is just boiling,
waiting for you.

Actually, I know who you are.

I watched you on TV very often
when I first came to Hong Kong.

You were the best!

I quit acting a long time ago.

Please, have a seat.

Mrs. Li, guess how old I am.

Sit here, please.


Guess, Mrs. Li.

I suppose...

you're in your thirties at most.

I'm much older than that.
Everyone calls me Aunt Mei.

But you don't have any wrinkles.

And I have fair skin, too.

I'm my own best advertisement.

Your skin is great.
I'm impressed.

My dumplings are worth it.
You get what you pay for.

Mrs. Li...

I'm putting in more cabbage for you.

I bet you dislike chives
for their strong flavor.

This cabbage is great.

I'll cut it fine, squeeze it dry

and put more ginger
in the filling, okay?

- It's up to you.
- Okay.

The Northerners always say,

"Good feeling comes from a nap.
Good taste comes from a dumpling."

Dumplings have existed in China
for more than 1,400 years.

But the Southerners still say

they're just dough stuffed
with meat, nothing special!

I use high-gluten flour
for texture and chewiness.

I knead it fine until
it's like a peeled egg.

Smooth, translucent and soft.

That's the secret to keep
the filling from leaking out.

So that the juicy flavor
explodes in the mouth...

Here you go.

Eat while it's warm.

Take your time.
Baby, behave!

I eat this often.
It's so nutritious.

Sometimes in soup, sometimes minced
and steamed with citrus peel.

But dumplings taste the best.

And they made me famous.


It's a shame to discard this.

Wash it, then bury it in the soil.

The flowers will bloom especially well.

Let me tell you...

All expensive cosmetics claim
to contain precious stuff like

Bird's nest, ginseng,

pearl powder, pollen, royal jelly...


Who cares?

For women to rejuvenate, you must start
from inside for the best result.

Only my secret formula can do this.

Mrs. Li...

Think of the results,
not what it was.

Let me sing for you.

Well, it's kind of a custom of mine.

I often sing songs from my youth
when my customers eat.

Take it as entertainment.

Rough is the nature of Lake Hung

My home is on the shore

At dawn, boats go out with nets

At dusk, they return loaded with fish

Wild ducks and lotus roots are here

The scent of rice fins our autumn air

They say heaven is beautiful

How can it compare with my Lake Hung?

Some furniture
will be delivered tomorrow.

Just stay at the house.

Come by the day after.

Sir, may I go now
to deliver tonic soup to Mrs. Li?

Mr. Li, you've been staying
in our hotel for months.

You still don't want to leave?

My house is being renovated.

My dining set from Paris
is still sitting in the warehouse.

My decorator refuses to unpack it
in this humid weather.

I'm fussy like him.

If it doesn't feel good, I reject it.

Please behave. Stop it.

I'll behave when I eat.

- You're naughty.
- It doesn't break.

What is it?


It looks disgusting.

- Try some?
- No, thanks.

Your soup, ma'am.

- What did she say to Mr. Li?
- Oh... I don't know.

I went through so much to get these.
They've stepped up the surveillance here.

- Because some paparazzi have come.
- Hong Kong media is so nosy.

Just don't show up
in the next two weeks.

- Even the locals can't get a hold of the stock.
- We'll see.

- This is for you.
- Thanks.

- You didn't see?
- What?

- Who?
- Wang Shouyi.

- Really?
- Why did you two break up?

It was long ago.

He loathed the one-child policy.

But I was aborting
over 10 fetuses a day.

That was 3,000 a year.
30,000 in 10 years.

He was afraid I would have a cursed child
for all the deaths I caused.

- It was a national policy.
- Indeed.

- I was only serving the people!
- Indeed! Bye, then.

This way, ma'am.

- Put it through.
- Over there?

- The lunchbox.
- Okay.

Open it.

Ham and egg on rice?

Yes, lunch for my kid.
Ham, egg, plain rice.

- You may go.
- Thanks.

Thank you.

I didn't lie to you. Trust me!

Shut up!


Believe me.
I didn't lie to you.

Stop following me
or I'll beat you into pieces.

I taped these long ago
because I was so fond of you, Mrs. Li.


Hello? Fung!


Is it raining in London?

Your mom said you maxed out
your credit card.

Who are you with? A girl?


You're dating?

Does your mom know?

Your mom said she still hasn't seen
your report card.

You did well to choose me
as your sponsor.

I'll call you later, okay?

Dating at 13!

Dating at 13!
So it's puppy love! Your son?

I look that old?

You ever consider having children?

We just can't.
I don't know whose problem it is.

Don't worry.

You'll soon regain your youth
and the heart of your man.

Do you have more potent stuff
for faster results?

The best are those
in the fifth or sixth month.

You have to remove it by breaking
the water sac, then sliding it out.

It's covered by a layer of creamy fat.

The colors are defined.
You can even see the cranium.

Its tiny limbs will
still be moving around.

It's only this big
in the first trimester.

But the meat will be tough
by the third trimester.

The fifth-month ones
are perfect, kitten-like.

So cute and so nutritious.

Let me show you.

There you go.

This 80-year-old...

she ate exactly this

and feels like 18 again.

Check that out.

This is what I made the fillings with.

You're still afraid?

I used to be a doctor in China.

Only the best minds
could study medicine.

My forte was surgery
with no bleeding.

So you've saved many lives.

You can say I cleansed them.

Face it, we all have different fates
that we can't escape.

We can only treasure our time here
and live the best we can.


I'm at your favorite bakery.

- Want some custard tarts?
- I'm working.


I'll be home late.

Remember your promise.

Of course.

Our 15th anniversary.

I'll keep you company tomorrow.



You were already on a trip last week.

You promised to stay
for our 15th anniversary.

I'm just going for a few days.

I want to visit my nephew in London.

Sure, if you like.

And go shopping, too.

So many zeroes?

You used to laugh a lot. Now even
a big fat check can't make you happy?

Laughing doesn't equal happy.
Plus, you're not coming.

- I'll be gone for only four or five days.
- And if not?

I'll write you another check as a fine.

Fines are for mistakes.


About that contract... if you don't send it
over soon, I'm going to change my mind.

It tastes bland this time,
and what's this crunchiness about?

It's okay. They have hands and feet
already, you know, and ears, too.

Those were bones?

Nah... their bones are hardly hard.
I'll just chop finer next time.

Simmer in broth next time.
It'll taste less greasy.

Broth is good.
It keeps all the juices.

Are you done?

- This can't go on.
- Pardon?

My skin is still flabby.

No! It's much better!

I need your most potent stuff.

Trust me, I'll find it.

It's time for me to sing.

- Suit yourself, but I must go.
- Bye, Mrs. Li.

This way!
Don't worry, I'll find it for you.

Call me when you do.

Trust me.

Aunt Mei?

- You are...
- I'm a friend of Mrs. Kam.

Oh, come on in!
Hello, dear.

Speak up! Beg for help.

I can't help you.

But Mrs. Kam said you used to be
a great doctor in China.

It's too risky.

Go to Shenzhen.

There are good hospitals,
and it's legal, too.

I know, but I can't afford the fees.

Black market, then.

- But you are the black market!
- Hey!

I'm not!

Her feet are swollen.

She's showing.

I thought she gained weight.

She's five months along.

Could have scraped the uterus in the
first trimester, but now the fetus is big.

If I force it, the bones will pierce
the uterus. I can't do it. Too risky.

Please help her.
She's only 15!

I quit long ago.
It's illegal.

But she can't keep the baby!

She's too young to be a mother.

Say something!
Speak up! Beg for help!

I must tell you this.

Her dad did this to her!

He is a monster!

We can't keep the child!

Please help us!

I don't know how to take it...
as my stepchild or grandchild?

Have mercy on us!

Quit your job today.

And live off you?

I can afford that, given you're
so slim and eat so little.

- Not true. I love eating.
- And you like to laugh, too.

Your home is so grand!


It's empty!

It's a house, not a home.

My husband is probably
with some young girl now.

Didn't he notice your change?

I can't wait.

I need your best stuff.

For youth and beauty,

we women are always busy
fighting our age.

I used to always laugh
when I was young.

I joined the TV station
right after high school.

I became a hot star at once.
Li was the sponsor of my show.

We met when I was doing a stunt.

I fell and he held me.

So you married him?

I was 20 then. Every girl at that age
dreams of a perfect marriage.

He was in his thirties,
and he loved me.

I thought I would live
happily ever after.

All men love chicks
in their twenties.

They do so in their thirties,
forties, fifties,

sixties and so on.

It's the law of nature. They just
can't resist the body of a 20-year-old.

I can accept that,
as long as he doesn't flaunt it.

Men are all the same.

All they know is sex.

What's so good about
a 20-year-old bimbo?

And you?


I broke up with my first love
and married an uncultured man.

A cook!

Back then, we mainlanders all wanted
to come to Hong Kong.

We would do anything
just to get a Hong Kong ID.

As for me...

I struggled hard before
I could get my residency.

But then, I also got divorced.

I don't think you dare get a divorce.

Women like you are everywhere.

Be glad you know me.

in five years, you'll be an ex-wife.

In 10 years, an ex-ex.

And in 15 years, you'll be nothing.

Unlike you, I'm my own boss.

You may be rich, but I am free.

On the shore is my home

Mrs. Li, go cast your net

Mrs. Li!

At dusk, they return loaded with fish

- Thanks, Aunt Mei.
- You're welcome. Bye.

Hello, Mrs. Li?

Not yet.

These are things money can't buy...
just like love.

The potent stuff is rare.

All right. Bye.

What a creepy place.




Just relax.

It'll be over soon.

You're almost there.
It's been 18 hours already.


You must try to relax, dear.

Will she be all right?

Of course.

Try to relax.

Your cervix has not fully dilated yet.

Poor girl, you're not even fully grown.

We women must defend ourselves.
Don't let others bully you again.

Take care of your daughter,
and don't let this happen again.

The water broke!

- It's okay.
- Don't be nervous.

I swear it will be over in seconds.

Breathe deeply!

Work with me, okay?


Hold on.

Cry if you want to.

It's fully dilated!

Stay calm! And on my count...

One, two, three!

The head is out! Wait!

Where are my tongs?


Try to relax.


Don't be sad, my dear.

There's no more life in this baby.

So fresh.

My dear...

you'll be fine.

It's over.

It's done, my dear.

I'll help you to my couch.
Get some rest.


Take her shoes.
I'll sing for you.

My, you're heavy.
I can't hold you much longer.


Want some snacks?
I'll do steamed dumplings this time.

Need some wine, too.

- It was a boy.
- A boy?

See that little thing?

So beautiful and rare.

Boys don't get aborted in China.

I didn't use any oxytocin,
just a catheter.

Drugs make it inedible.
It'll damage your nervous system.

It's a firstborn...
the most nutritious.

Nothing in the world
can beat this nutrition.

You saw the mother...
a proper girl.

The mother's a schoolgirl...

young and healthy.

Then get working!

What's the style today?

This will make you
feel like new. I promise.


My husband broke his leg.

Now you need me.

Normally you wouldn't
even care where I go.

You smell nice...

...look nice.

You haven't held me in ages.

Thirsty? I'll get water.

It's so hot in the street.

And we must go to Mongkok next.

Darn! I forgot about that.

Two more trunks to move.

- Woe is me.
- Big trunks, too.

What the hell?

- What's this?
- What is it?

- It's blood.
- My goodness!

Here's a tissue.

Whose blood is this?

Kate? Are you all right?

Kate, what's going on?

Answer me, Kate! Answer me!

Kate? You all right?
What's going on?

I don't want to die.

Don't leave me, Kate.

Please don't die.

It's all my fault.


I think the price is reasonable.

I'm busy lately.

My secretary Emily will follow up.

Don't worry.


Could be sheep placenta or Reishi mushroom,
or perhaps Snow Lotus.

Otherwise, it must be the Snow Lotus.

Nah... I say a major facelift.

She must have taken something.

Or eaten something.

Mrs. Li.

You look fabulous!
Absolutely radiant!

- Talking behind my back?
- No!

Just praising you.

I'll catch up later.

You're so late.

Perhaps she found herself a guru,
or better, voodoo.

What evil thoughts!

That's scary!

Mrs. Li, stop busying yourself.
Join us.

- Bon appetit.
- Thanks.

The food smells kind of fishy.


- Is it the beef?
- The beef?

It's the fish, I think.


I don't think so.

There's a strange smell here.

Something wrong with the food?

But the fish is fine.

But it really stinks here.

What can it be?

It's coming from there.

I forgot to check something.
Excuse me.

She's off again!

Where is she going?

The smell is gone.
It's so strange.

Aunt Mei?

What was this "best stuff"?

What did you feed me?
Now I smell fishy all over!


I've been eating that
for 20 years and I'm fine.

If anything happens to me,
I'll hold you responsible!

I'll sue you!

Go ahead then, and tell people
What you've been eating.

Don't be silly, Mrs. Li.

You smell funny because it's working!

Stop overreacting.
Look at the mirror tomorrow

and you'll be grateful.

What do I do now?

Huh? What do I do now?

This baby was hard to find.

Available only because his father
was also his grandfather.

One in a million, you know.

A child of incest?

A cursed child turns me into this?

A cursed child has extra potency,

I tell you.

Hey! Mrs. Li, hurry!

Turn on the TV.
Channel 2 is rerunning your series!

Heard you have a crush on someone
from the neighborhood boys school.


- You sure?
- No...

The one you said looks like Alan Tam.

I never said so!

- At least he's a prom king.
- So?

Even a deck of cards has four kings.

- Just admit it, you like him!
- No!


Mrs. Li, are you crying?

Don't be sad. Be strong.

Take a hot bath,

sip some whiskey,

then get a good sleep
and you'll be fine.

Good night, Mrs. Li.


Aunt Mei?

Yes. Hi, Mr. Li.

You're doing illegal trade here.

No, this is just a dumpling shop.

But you advocate cannibalism.

Does it really work?

Please take a seat.

I'll prove it to you.

Sit here please.

You should never consider cannibalism
immoral in China.

It has existed since history began.

Li's Herbalist Handbook
clearly stated that

human flesh and organs are admissible
ingredients for medicinal recipes.

During famines,

neighbors traded and cooked
each other's children for survival.

The famous chef Yi Ya

heard that his emperor
wanted to try human flesh.

He butchered and served his son
as a course

to the monarch.

Tales abound of caring
sons and daughters

cutting off flesh
for their parents' medicines.

The classic "Water Margin"

depicted heroes who
savored their enemies.

One even served buns
with human flesh filling.

The Japanese have definitely
eaten many Chinese.

You think our country could have
got through all these wars and famines

without consuming human flesh?

What about out of pure hatred...
to skin you and eat you alive?

Our national hero Yue Fei once wrote,
"Pep up with a meal of the invaders' flesh.

Celebrate with a drink
of the invaders' blood."

When two people are deeply in love,

all they desire is to be
inside each other.

Inside each other's skin.

Inside each other's guts.

You were 20 in 1960?

That makes you 64 now!

Age is just a number.

But you're an old lady!

It's my body that counts.

Feel it... harder.

Is my body young enough?

You can be the same...

staying young forever.

Staying young by eating my dumplings.

This is Mrs. Li.
Do you have any supply?

Money is not a problem.
I need supplies...

Mr. Li, would you come back?

Yes, to eat your flesh.

- That's a promise.
- See you.

See you soon.

I shall wait for you
I shall wait for you

I shall wait for you

Aunt Mei!

Aunt Mei!

Aunt Mei, it's me.

Dizzy? And rashes?

It's just nerves.

You'll be fine after
you move back home.

I'll prescribe you something.

Hotel living is not for you.

- Nurse.
- Yes, Dr. Wong.

Mrs. Li's chauffeur will come
pick up her medication.

How many days' prescription?

- Give her a week's worth.
- Okay.

Miss Zhao...

Mr. Li's secretary called and asked why
you skipped your ultrasound yesterday.

So? I'm here now.

Here's your report.

Call us if your
morning sickness continues.

- Thanks, good-bye.
- Bye.

Excuse me.

Aunt Mei.

You scared me.

I was rude.

But as a woman,

you know what I was going through.

I really need your help.

I've retired.

Money is not a problem.

Forget it, Mrs. Li.

What happened was a dream.

Mrs. Li, cut that crap.

I beg you, I really need your help!

Hey! Mr. Li,
I'm fixing my hair now.

I've been waiting for your call.

I want to see you soon, too!

Okay, bye!

Don't move!

Dispatch, we've arrived at 2103.

Victim is male, badly cut.
We need an ambulance.

We have his wife under control.

Tell them to hurry.

The victim is still alive!

What's this?

- Must you scream?
- So much stuff left.

My husband is back with me.

I won't let go again.

Give up.

I've expected it all along.

But you're pregnant.

He doesn't mind.
He wanted a son.

And if it's a girl?

Then I charge less.
I'm in.

You sure?

I'm five months along.

Only four more months to go.

I'm young.

I can spare the time.

The pay would be enough
for me to live well for a while.

I want your baby.


Inheritance issues?

I want your baby now.


Abort it.

You can be free again,
and I can rest assured.

I'll double whatever he's paying you.

How about that?

Doctor, she's in her second trimester.

Do not induce a miscarriage.

Don't use any drugs.

I don't want the fetus dead
before it comes out.

Use only a catheter and prostaglandin
to stimulate the contraction.

I want the fetus to be pure.

This method takes a long time.

It will cause the mother
a lot of pain.

So what?

The pain will end.

You want to...
keep the fetus?

Yes, and in its pure form.

What for?

To make a specimen,

a trophy.

The world's most expensive trophy.

Hurry, then.

Leave the blinds.

I want to watch.