- A LOVE STORY
the same producers who brought us the impressively gory satire
Dream Home comes
this troubling, often brilliant but equally frustrating film,
a mean-spirited look at the circular nature of revenge that has
more than its fair share of nastiness.
It opens up as a grim serial killer story, as pregnant women are
turning up murdered, the unborn babies cut from the womb (this
is not a film that pregnant women should watch!). The
fact that they are the wives of police officers, who are also
either missing or dead, just makes things worse for the investigators,
and when a suspect they recognise makes a run for it, they are
convinced they have their man, especially as they know who he
is from a previous encounter.
The film then takes us back to reveal the background to the story,
as we see Kit (Juno Mak) falling for innocent, mentally challenged
schoolgirl Wing (Sora Aoi), only for various obstacles to get
in the way of their fumbling romance. Firstly, Wing’s tenacious
grandmother disapproves of Kit, and when the old lady dies, Wing
is placed in a ridiculously run down institution. But Kit breaks
her out, and the pair are offered shelter by a friendly prostitute
neighbour. Unfortunately, while Kit is out steaming buns (no euphemism)
and the hooker is away at work, a drunken client turns up and,
thinking she's another prostitute, forces himself on Wing. Kit
returns and fights him off, and the pair go to the police to report
what has happened. Unfortunately for them, the would-be rapist
is the police chief, and he and his men – absolutely the
baddest bad cops around – take turns raping Wing and beating
Kit before framing him and sending him to prison for six months.
On his release, he begins his revenge-fuelled killing spree, and
the film returns to the present as both he and the surviving cops
fight it out, both seeking revenge on the other.
of Revenge – A Love Story is extremely
impressive. The developing romance is handled well, and the ensuing
horror is built steadily and with an increasing sense of bleak
inevitability, as everyone loses any sense of perspective and
instead continue to perpetuate the circle of vengeance. There
are some remarkable visual moments – one victim literally
vomits fire after a bad encounter with a petrol pump – and
director Wong Ching-Po manages to ramp up the tragedy of the story
effectively. Good performances in difficult roles from all the
leads help make the film more convincing that it perhaps should
there are faults, and it’s the overdone melodrama that is
at the heart of most of them. The bad cops are frankly too caricatured
to seem believable villains, no matter how well the actors tackle
their roles, and the mental institution is also unconvincingly
Victorian.The use of intertitles to chapter the film, meanwhile,
adds an unnecessarily pretentious touch to the film.
But it’s the drawn out ending that is the main offender.
This is a film that simply doesn’t know when to stop, and
it’s continuation after what feels to be at least three
finales becomes increasingly irritating. The fact that the worst
part of the film is (a final coda aside) the actual finale
is a real shame – it’s a ridiculous, unconvincing
moment that unfortunately is the thing that immediately stays
with you after the movie concludes.
It’s a pity, because for most of the running time, Revenge
is a dark, powerful and tragic tale of how a brief moment of mistaken
identity can rapidly spiral out of control and destroy the lives
of everyone involved. No iffy climax can ruin that, and the film
is certainly well worth seeking out. Just go to the toilet or
something during the final five minutes.
IT NOW (UK)