Wong plays an unassuming nightclub employee in Macao who alienates a gang of drunken men (led by Shing Fui-on). They tail her after her shift, and mount a gang assault. She attempts to ...
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Wong plays an unassuming nightclub employee in Macao who alienates a gang of drunken men (led by Shing Fui-on). They tail her after her shift, and mount a gang assault. She attempts to enlist the aid of her former brother-in-law (Lam) - an ex-triad now confined to a wheelchair. A lounge owner in HK, he hires her as a waiter and finds her a place to live, but refuses to help in her quest for vengeance. She, however, has other ideas. When a chance encounter provides access to the first assailant (Shing), she improvises the first of a series of horrifically graphic acts of vengeance. The remaining gang members try to neutralize their unknown adversary. Written by
Raw and dark Hong Kong thriller by one of the industry's most interesting directors.
Hong Kong film maker Ngai Kai Lam's (aka Simon Nam and Laam Naai Choi) filmography includes gems like the ultra violent and outrageous prison action Story of Ricky (1992), a hysterically gory and fast paced jungle adventure The Seventh Curse (1986), Erotic Ghost Story (1990), Killer's Nocturn (1987) and The Peacock King (1989). His films are definitely among the most interesting to come out from Hong Kong and his style is usually so over-the-top and different so I think not everyone will appreciate his films. Her Vengeance (1988) is among his (and Hong Kong's) most noteworthy thrillers and a very dark piece of the whole HK film industry.
Her Vengeance stars Pauline Wong Siu Fung as young lady Chieh Ying who works at a night club. One night a bunch of five ugly and drunken men (played by HK actors Wong Ching, Billy Chow Bei-Lei, Shing Fui On, Shum Wai and Chan Ging) come to the bar and act very abruptly. They touch the ladies and also pay attention to Pauline, who sadly doesn't know what they have decided. Pauline soon goes home but is attacked on the dark streets by these five men who take her to a silent and menacingly dark cemetery where they rape her very brutally and violently. Still she survives and starts to think what next. It turns out she has been infected by a very serious venereal disease by the dirty rapists and she suffers terrible pain, too. Once her blind sister (Elaine Kam Yin-Ling) gets to know what has happened, they decide their mission is to revenge and kill those who abused Pauline. Their wheelchair bound uncle played by the late great Lam Ching Ying from the many "HK Vampire" films first tries to make Pauline forget the act and not continue the violence but his advice is not considered, until it is too late. In Her Vengeance, nothing can be achieved by violence and nobody can be safe from that. In Her Vengeance, after all, there are no "innocent" or "guilty" persons.
The film is written by Woo Suet Lai who has also written The Peacock King for Simon Nam. The film is visually stunning as can be expected from Hong Kong makers. Same year saw the light of day (or maybe not) also Alfred Cheung's dark On the Run (1988) starring Yuen Biao and Pat Ha, and that film belongs among the greatest HK crime noirs and dark thrillers ever with sudden bursts of violence and over all feel of depravity. Her Vengeance was shot by Kwan Chi Kan who has also shot films like Peacock King and Saga of the Phoenix (1990) again both films by Simon Nam. In Her Vengeance, the cinematography is brilliant at many points and the rape scene bathes in a very strong blue mist that makes the act look as brutal and strong as it is in real life, too. Also the religious elements in that scene give a unique impact to the scene and of course what happens after that. Also many bright lights are reflected to the asphalt in the tradition of the mentioned On the Run by Alfred Cheung and many other HK films that have this almost unique sense of visuals and different lights. The various scenes involving raining in Her Vengeance are very melancholic and depict the depravity of the situation very powerfully so the cinematography in the piece is among its strongest sides.
These visual elements are for me among the most important things in HK cinema in general because their usage of light and different kinds of mist and smoke is truly wonderful in the hands of the most talented makers. For example, the finale in Ringo Lam's City on Fire (1986) is among these scenes that hardly have any comparison from too many Western films. Also Billy Tang's hyper dark and merciless films like Run and Kill (1993), Red to Kill (1993) and his co-direction with first timer Danny Lee Dr. Lamb (1992) show his incredible sense of visual terror and menace. Also many of the recent Milky Way films from Patrick Yau and Johnnie To, especially their The Longest Nite (1998) masterpiece have a breath taking impact in their atmosphere created by lightning and darkness.
The characters are pretty great and have only very few irritating aspects and things that can be considered as over-acting. Pauline Wong's character has some exaggerated face expressions at times as she shows her hatred towards the men who raped her and again it would have been much more effective if she had acted a little more restrainedly. Lam Ching Ying's wheel chair uncle is calm and convincing as always and he is definitely among the most sympathetic HK faces I know. The rapists are ugly and dirty and fortunately don't act as idiotically as they could. The doctor who tells Pauline about her serious disease is among the film's most brutal and coldest characters as he just says without any empathy what will follow her and what kind of forms the disease may have. Without any visible reason, he acts very inhumanely. I think this doctor character should have been written differently as he is now completely unexplainedly unsympathetic and unmotivated character in the film that otherwise has pretty carefully written characters in it.
The ending is very strong piece of bloody Hong Kong carnage and the mayhem level is very high. The characters just hate and loathe each other so much that the act really looks like a bunch of wild animals let on the loose to kill each other, and that is also the theme of this film. Revenge and thoughts behind it. Nothing like this would have happened if Pauline's character had believed her uncle and not started to think about revenge, because like in real world, violence creates only more terror and hate and death comes only closer to you when you start thinking about revenge. When even Lam Ching Ying's character starts to think positively about the revenge at one point, it all has been lost and there is no way it can end happily anymore. The film is very pessimistic, almost nihilistic but honest all the time. At the end of the film, everyone is dead or dying and only one character can be seen walking away, but definitely not undamaged or in the condition he/she expected to be after the decided mission.
The violence is very strong throughout the film and the mentioned finale is the kind of hyper violence that can be found in Hong Kong cinema only, and elsewhere only very rarely. But it is not just low exploitation like some other Hong Kong revenge films like Johnny Wang Lung Wei's City Warriors (1988) or some of the more recent films like Aman Chang's insane Body Weapon (1999) or any other HK film which has violence which hasn't got any meaning other than itself. Her Vengeance's theme of weak human mind who searches for revenge is presented so that the brutal imagery has a meaning and at the end it is much more than just itself. Some of the killings are so planned and sadistic it is very difficult to like the revenging characters at all especially at the end when it is revealed what their deeds have resulted.
Her Vengeance belongs to the Hong Kong cinema type I appreciate perhaps the most. It is this dark, honest, non-humorous or entertainment oriented type that has its unique films in various genres like horror, action and thrillers. Her Vengeance has just very few flaws that don't earn it as high rating as possible, but still this is among the most noteworthy Hong Kong dark thrillers I have had the chance of seeing and at this point, it easily gets 8/10. As in most Hong Kong films, subsequent viewings are almost essential and that goes to Her Vengeance, too, even though this is pretty easy to see through only after one viewing.
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