“You know I hate red”
Red to kill is one of the better Cat III shockers from Hong Kong probably only eclipsed by The Untold Story. It’s certainly the prolific Cat III director Billy Tang’s best movie. For anyone not familiar with Cat III movies, Cat III was a genre of movies made in Hong Kong in the late 80s-early 90s. In 1988 the government of the time introduced a ratings system. Cat III was an adults only rating. Most Cat III films rely on heavy sexual imagery & violence. From the shockingly brutal & hard to watch but very well made Men Behind The Sun, through the highly exploitive Raped By An Angel series, to the utter lunacy of Riki Oh: The Story Of Riki, Hong Kong’s Cat III directors pretty much threw everything at the screen. Most if I am brutally honest are instantly forgettable.
Chi Wai Chan (Ben Ng) runs a home for the mentally ill, he also hides a dark secret, traumatized as a child, he now loses it when he sees the colour red, becoming a violent rapist. Things come to a head when Ming Ming (Lily Chung) an orphaned girl with a love for dance is brought into the home. After Chan sees Ming Ming twice wearing red, Chan loses it & subjects Ming Ming to a violent assault. Ming Ming breaks down & confides in her social worker & close friend Ka Lok Cheung (Money Lo) & Chan is put on trail for his crime. Due to Ming Ming only having the mental age of a 12yr old, Chan is freed on a technicality. Chan is obsessed with Ming Ming & starts to stalk her which leads to Cheung & Ming Ming plotting revenge on Chan. The final reel of the movie brings the story to a shocking conclusion.
Red to kill is a movie that treads a fine line due to the potential for distaste because of its subject matter. fortunately Tang’s handling of the movie is tasteful, subtle & highly emotionally charged. The characterisation & depth of performance by the cast is outstanding. Both Money Lo & Ben Ng are excellent in their roles, but it is Lily Chung ‘s performance as Ming Ming that is the movies highpoint. A Cat III regular Chung really proves herself as a fine actress. Her portrayal of Ming Ming’s childish innocence & enthusiasm is subtle & completely believable. The scene after her assault when she is in the shower is heartbreaking. Unable to fully understand what has happened to her, in pain & feeling dirty, Ming Ming breaks down. Never has the after effects of this kind of crime been portrayed with such intensity & emotional power. Chung’s performance alone really lifts the movie above the deluge of similarly themed Cat III movies. This movie makes incredibly bleak viewing, there is little in the way of good cheer throughout it’s running time, a trait it shares with most of the better examples of the Cat III genre like the aforementioned The Untold Story, Her Vengeance & Kiss Of Death (yes I know the second film I mentioned is a remake of the third) This is not in my opinion a bad thing. In fact I kind of like my movies grim with either a downbeat ending or one that is left open.
The Cat III genre was short-lived & many of the movies in this genre were forgettable films whose sole reasons for existing seemed to be huge amounts of pointless nudity & violence. If you are new to Cat III films, Red to Kill is not a bad film to start with. Certainly not a film for everyone due to its subject matter. Having said that Red To Kill is not as exploitative as many of the films in this genre. This movie along with The Untold Story stands as the pick of the crop. If you have a strong constitution give it a try.