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REVENGE - A LOVE STORY
DVD . Terror-Cotta.

Revenge - A Love StoryFrom 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.

Revenge - A Love StoryMuch 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 be.

But 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.

DAVID FLINT

BUY IT NOW (UK)

 

 

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