Revenge: A Love Story (Fuk sauce chi sei) (2010)
(18) Running time: 90 minutes
Director: Ching-Po Wong
Writers: Juno Mak, Ching-Po Wong
Starring: Juno Mak, Sola Aoi, Siu-hou Chin
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
With films like I Saw the Devil and The Yellow Sea proving that when it comes to revenge thrillers, they rarely get much darker than Asian cinema, I was very much looking forward to Revenge: A Love Story. The film follows in the footsteps of the previously mentioned two films, where a violent occurrence causes the main character to become engulfed in revenge, and subsequently the victim becomes a monster. It does happen here, but sadly while this film is upsetting in places and does do what it says on the tin, it is nowhere near the levels of brilliance of I Saw the Devil or The Yellow Sea. There also seems to be a disturbing fascination with the rape of beautiful women in Asian cinema right now, with this being the second film in two days I have watched which contains such scenes.
So what we have here is a film told in flashback, with the story broken up into chapters which chart the boy-meets-girl love story, and eventually unfolds into a tale of violence and sadistic murder. A serial killer is on the loose, killing pregnant women and removing their foetus’ while also murdering their husbands, who just happen to be police officers. It will be of no use telling you that there will be spoilers ahead because the film explains the story right from the get go as we witness Kit (Mak) strangling a man in slow motion. The violent opening then leads onto the film being broken into the chapters which tell the story, eventually leading to Kit’s arrest and torture. However, it is the events leading up to his arrest, and the cause of his violent outburst which will unsettle, and quite rightly disturb viewers. Kit is madly in love with the gorgeous Wing (Aoi), however it takes some time for her to notice him, and there are also hints that she may be slightly mentally handicapped. This plot device is only briefly covered, however Wing says very little in the film, if anything, and the poor couples relationship seems doomed from the start.
Wing’s Mother is a prostitute, and an unfortunate events leads to Wing’s attempted rape by a police officer, and Kit coming to her rescue and violently attacking the officer. In a despicable display of police corruption, both Kit and Wing are arrested: Kit is brutally beaten and made to watch as the love of his life is violently raped by a group of police officers believing she too is a prostitute and probably deserves it. The sickening events would lead any man to breaking point, and your sympathy for Kit, oddly, will stick with you even when he too becomes violent. The events what follow play out with careful consideration for Kit’s feelings, and expertly show on screen just how difficult a relationship can become after such an event. The eventual revenge story plays out in a way that shouldn’t, but WILL have you siding with Kit. He exacts revenge in some truly horrific ways, but all the while you think back to the events which caused his breakdown and you will ask the question “just what would you do in that situation if no one was on your side”. It is a lonely, cold tale of revenge, but sadly the film never quite delves deep enough into the story, and yes the chapters is a nice idea, but it often deters from the story because it is broken up into pieces not in order.
The violence on screen is often hard to watch, and the rape is filmed in a way to give maximum impact on both Kit and Wing. There are stomach churning moments, and for the most part the pacing is just right. However, the film feels muddled, and the build up of tension is often brought to a standstill by the next flashback or change of chapter. There are moments when some poor acting can spoil a scene, and the constant use of slow motion grows tiresome. However, the film manages to keep a level head, and never crosses over into what could have been another torture porn horror, and the emotional attachments, especially to Kit, are used to the films advantage. This tale of revenge is violent, and while you will side with Kit, there are times you will be angered by his actions. But then, faced with such a situation, what else could he do. Every man has a breaking point, and Revenge: A Love Story shows what can happen when that point is reached.