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Revenge A Love Story
Reviewed by
Simon Black
on
Revenge A Love Story DVD Review Revenge garnered a number of impressive reviews upon initial release although some critics, perhaps unprepared for its sheer uncompromising nastiness, were more measured in their assessment.†
Rating:
4.0

Feature 8.5
Video 9.0
Audio 9.0
Special features 6.0
Total 8.0
Distributor: Madman
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Reviewer: Simon Black
Classification
: R18+

8.0


Revenge: A Love Story

A modern-day Greek tragedy set in industrial China, Revenge: A Love Story remains one of the most extreme, accomplished and downright unsettling Hong Kong slashers of recent memory.  

Both a haunting excursion to the untamed depths of the psyche and an unflinching ode to revenge no matter what the cost, the film brings to mind a number of similarly-themed Korean standouts, principally Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance and I Saw the Devil, and while it is undeniably a little rougher around the edges this breakout feature from director Ching-Po Wong shares much of the same urgency as well as the pitiless subject matter of its thematic forbears. 

And much like these films, Revenge is best enjoyed knowing as little about its fragmented plot as possible.  Can you imagine watching Oldboy after reading a review that outlined even a hint of its many sick little twists and turns?  I canít.  That film was an endless cavalcade of shocks and surprises and Revenge is no different, effortlessly building the tension and atmosphere to fever pitch and providing piecemeal justification for its principal characterís grisly behaviour until, in true Park Chan-wook style, the final payoff arrives. 

The film has been superbly if somewhat unorthodoxly cast: pop star Juno Mak is excellent as the murderous protagonist hellbent on vengeance and Japanese porn star Sola Aoi gives a perfectly nuanced performance that somehow manages to be simultaneously ethereal  and abounding in pathos.  Aoi was cast because no Hong Kong actress could be found willing to take on the role, which involved rape, nudity and violence, and to her credit she performs admirably: her performance is both unvarnished and deeply affecting and the film is the stronger for her presence. 

Revenge garnered a number of impressive reviews upon initial release although some critics, perhaps unprepared for its sheer uncompromising nastiness, were more measured in their assessment.  For my money however itís one of the most exceptionally well crafted and eminently unsettling thrillers of all time, a singularly dark and deeply disturbing film that is difficult to watch but eminently watchable nonetheless. 

Audio & Video

Being borderline obsessive about Asian cinema this is the third version of the film of Iíve owned, after the Hong Kong edition and the UK import, and itís by far the best looking: here the grainy blue-grey colour palette actually look intentional, and picture quality is a vast improvement on the soft, washed out HK edition and the rather shimmery and surprisingly unimpressive UK version.  Madman also havenít fucked about with sound quality, and potent 5.1 surround mixes are available in both Cantonese and Mandarin, with error-free English subs.  In short this is the best the film has ever looked or sounded.   

Bonus Features

This new Region 4 edition also gathers together what were the standard bonus features on other editions, namely four short featurettes on the Preproduction, Casting, Stunt Choreography and Special Effects.  There are some interesting insights and enjoyable backstage footage, yet with a running time of between 4 and 12 minutes several of the featurettes come across as rather cursory.  Still, a nice inclusion. 






 
 



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