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RED TO KILL

Here’s a movie for those who think they’ve seen it all, a Hong Kong exploiter about a psychotic rapist loose in a hospital for retarded kids.  Yes, it’s every bit as graphic, repellant and politically incorrect as you might expect. 

The Package 
     Fans of extreme cinema should be intimately familiar with Hong Kong category III (adults only) over the toppers like THE UNTOLD STORY (1992), INSANITY (1993), DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS (1993) and NAKED KILLER (1992).  Such films freely mix sex and violence in outrageous and (by Western standards) irresponsible fashion.  RED TO KILL (RUO SHA; 1994) fits in well with that lineup—for that matter, it may just be the most offensive of the bunch.  That, my friends, takes some doing, and director Hin Sing “Billy” Tang is definitely the one to do it.  Tang, widely reviled as HK’s “most dangerous” filmmaker, made the outrageous DR. LAMB (an extremely graphic account of the exploits of a serial killer) and 1993’s even more astounding RUN AND KILL (about a fat guy who goes mad after inadvertently causing his wife to be murdered and his daughter burned to death).  But RED TO KILL is almost certainly his magnum opus, a relentless barrage of unadulterated exploitation. 

The Story
     The opening sequence accurately sets the tone: it intercuts a muscle bound freak brutally snapping the neck of a mentally impaired girl and then raping her corpse with a distraught mother who, together with her young daughter, falls from a tall building and splatters on the ground.  It turns out that all this has occurred in a hospital for retarded children run by Ming, a compassionate social worker…though not all that compassionate, I guess, as she seems to forget immediately about all the mayhem that just transpired in her establishment (as does the script).  Needless to add, the rapist strikes again, leaving another dead body in his wake, which causes a public outcry against the hospital…not that Ming seems to notice!
     The rapist, it turns out, is an employee of the hospital who goes into psychotic convulsions whenever he sees a woman wearing red.  Flashbacks reveal that he was scarred when as a child he witnessed his mother having sex with a man who stabbed his father to death with a meat cleaver when the latter walked in on them; his ma then tried to kill the boy and his little brother but fell on the cleaver and died herself.  This nut now has his eye on Ming, who just happens to be Lok’s favorite patient.  He rapes Ming, falling in love with her in the process and so allowing her to live. 
    
!!!SPOILER ALERT!!! Ming turns the scumbag in, but breaks down in court, forcing the judge to call off the case(!) and let the rapist free(!?).  Upon discovering his preference for the color red, Lok for some reason decides to seduce him by wearing red lingerie.  This only sends him over the edge, and he tries to rape Ming and Lok.  They fight back, however, stabbing their attacker with broken glass, putting out one of his eyes with a flower stem and, finally, tricking him into lying down upon a table saw.
     Unfortunately, Ming is thrown through a window during the melee, which sends her into a coma.  In the final scene her fellow patients come to visit Ming in the hospital where they attempt to rouse her from her torpor.  When Ming doesn’t wake up they go crazy and trash the place. 

The Direction 
     Make no mistake: this film is complete and utter trash with absolutely NO redeeming social value.  The only possible reason to view it is for those curious about just how extreme modern-day exploitation cinema can get. 
     For all that, however, the film is not poorly made.  Billy Tang stages his disgusting sequences with great flair and a wealth of arrestingly off-kilter camera angles.  It’s Tang’s penchant for nauseating sentimentality and over-the-top mayhem that makes his work questionable, in particular the obsessively detailed eight minute rape sequence at the film’s center, which is vile enough to outdo those of STRAW DOGS, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and IRREVERSIBLE in sheer ugliness.   
 

Vital Statistics 

RED TO KILL (RUO SHA)
Martin Film Company Limited

Director: Hin Sing “Billy” Tang
Producer: Kimmy Shuen
Screenplay: Wong Ho Wah
Cinematography: Miu Kin Fai
Editing: Choi Hung
Cast: Lily Chung, Money Lo, Ben Ng, Bobby Yip
 


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