Fantastic Fest Review: Revenge: A Love Story

Posted by Jenni Lee - October 2nd 2011 @ 11:53 pm

Directed By: Ching-Po Wong (2010)
Written By: Lai-yin Leung, Ching-Po Wong, Juno Mak (Original Story)
Run Time: 91 min.

Revenge: A Love Story is a Hong Kong thriller from director Ching-Po Wong who helped co-write the screenplay along with Lai-yin Leung. Juno Mak, who wrote the original story, stars as Kit, a grocery store clerk who observes a young girl, mentally challenged Wing. Wing (Sola Aoi) comes to buy sticky buns from the grocery before school and Kit quickly falls in love with her. Their lives together are destroyed when Wing’s caretaker dies and she is put into an institution. Wing is freed, but falls into the hands of a lunatic cop (Lau Wing) taking this story on an unseen path to revenge.

This film is beautifully directed by Ching-Po Wong who was awarded the Silver St. George awards for direction and director at the Moscow International Film Festival. The film has been making the rounds at film festivals this year playing at the Cannes Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, and the Terracotta Far East Film Festival. Juno Mak excels as Kit and has an unparalleled oneness with the character. The atmosphere that surrounds Mak is so thick that the audience is able to suffer right along with him as he attempts to protect Wing. Sola Aoi plays her role as Wing in a reserved calm manner that lends to Kit’s fascination with her. Aoi almost seems like a blank piece of paper at times, but turns out to be much smarter than we thought by the end. Lau Wing as the lunatic cop is irreverent and easily dismisses any morality that a normal human being would have. This combination of characters makes for an explosive, shocking, and calculated ending to both the characters and the film.

Revenge: A Love Story does have bloody bookends that include unrestrained removal of babies from pregnant women and tumultuous ends for many of the characters. The centerpiece of the violence is the repeated brutal rape and cause of Kit’s revenge. At its core the film is a love story, as well as a morality caveat to not judge a book by its cover or commit heinous acts of violence against others. It is a film that doesn’t show violence for violence sake, but rather shows the brutal reality of the characters to show the audience how wrong it is no matter if it is a corrupt cop or an everyday man or woman seeking revenge.

In addition to the anti-violence and moral themes there is an element of timeline shifts throughout the film. The device used shows the audience the ending of the film at the beginning, so you know where the film will eventually lead you, however there are many surprises along the journey in the exploration of Kit and Wing’s fate. In summary, if you have a weak stomach, cannot bear rape scenes, or mutilation of pregnant women even in a fictional setting, this isn’t the film for you. But if you can manage to bear these scenes in the context of a morality thriller Revenge: A Love Story will be right up your alley.

Grade: B

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