Written by: Carroll Jenkins on August 27th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1994
Director: Hin Sing ‘Billy’ Tang
Writer: Ho Wa Wong
Cast: Lily Chung, Money Lo, Ben Ng, Bobby Yip
DVD Released: December 4th, 2001
Approximate Running Time: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Rating: Cat III
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Cantonese, Dolby Digital Mono Mandarin
Subtitles: English, Chinese
DVD Release: Tai Seng
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: OOP
Synopsis: A serial rapist killer terrorizes a low-rent apartment complex soon after a group home for retarded persons occupies part of the building. Ming Ming is an innocent 21 year old girl with the mental capacity of 10 years whose father dies and she becomes the newest resident. She is visited often by her dedicated and sincere social worker.
Don’t doubt it for a moment, Red To Kill is first and foremost a brutal Cat III thriller. It is very well made, with excellent acting, a balanced script with good pacing, all which send it to the head of the class. The first act plays like a giallo, as the tension between the ‘normal’ tenants and the intellectually challenged is interspersed with the latest murder rape by the fiend.
There is some social commentary regarding the positive and negative aspects of retarded persons in society – mostly presented as Ming Ming testifies at her rape trial, but any actual sensitivity toward the issue seems offered merely to blunt any criticism of the central concept. Ming Ming as prey makes the audience squirm in their seats, and her rather long nude scenes are meant to shock, not pander. The performances of her fellow residents are hardly refined, and could have been cut from a broad (and utterly non-pc) comedy and pasted here. If you want true sympathy for the plight of the retarded, check out The Lunatics instead.
Lily Chung plays the lovely Ming Ming, and though she only expresses the extremes of emotion to convey the childish nature of her character, this is still a much better showcase for her talent than her prior role in Daughter Of Darkness. There are similarities between the films, such as her long nude shower scenes, but in DOD it is played to be [semi] erotic (willing partners), while in RTK it is a coda to the brutal and lengthy rape that precedes it, and there is NOTHING in the entire film intended to be erotic. Both films have grim, bloody, mega violent finales, but the villain in Red To Kill makes Jack Nicholson in The Shining look like a Kindergarten teacher.
The non-anamorphic widescreen presentation is not bad, and the main problem with the subtitles seems to be with genderization. For such a high profile example of both the artistry and excess of the CAT III sexual thriller, we can only hope that this lack luster and OOP release will soon be trumped.
There is plenty here to offend EVERYONE, but it is done with finesse and style. Lily Chung’s performance is amazing, and the killer certainly is a formidable foe. If the idea of a Cat III Giallo is intriguing, then this is your beast. For everyone else, “I’d go back, if I were you”.