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.
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 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.
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.
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
in sheer ugliness.
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