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Isaach De Bankolé,
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Revenge: A Love Story puts its best foot forward from the get go, drawing the viewer in with early scenes of remarkable cruelty that are shot with a clarity of vision one would expect from a veteran filmmaker. Unfortunately, the film stumbles and eventually falls flat.
The film is divided into 'chapters'. For fear of spoiling anything at all, I will refrain from discussing them in depth. I will say though - the first three play out over the first hour of the movie. These three, and the third especially, are strong, with a few setbacks. After that first hour, I was expecting to be rewarding this movie with 7 or even 8 stars.
I may be jumping to conclusions by saying this, but I am of the belief that this movie was simply watered-down too many times pre-production. There was most certainly something great beneath it all. In the lead role, Jun Mak showed off his acting chops and I can't say, by any means, that he was bad in the role. There wasn't enough dialogue. I felt like the movie was tailored for pop stars and took away any opportunity for them to appear to be poor actors, subsequently preventing any semblance of a strong performance. Solo Aoi almost never spoke. It was briefly alluded to that her character was 'retarded' or 'mildly retarded'. Her role in the movie felt too much like 'smile and be beautiful'.
Buried somewhere deep within Revenge: A Love Story is a truly brilliant film, comparable to prominent films in the revenge sub-genre. The recent I Saw The Devil comes to mind. In fact, there are even parallels to be drawn between the two, as Revenge too invokes the notion of pure evil when the title of chapter 5 refers to the devil. By that time, the film had already begun it's self-destruction, and we're subjected to the third installment of Jun Mak running, shirtless, in slow-motion, with his panting the only audible sound.
I would recommend this to revenge-movie geeks. You'll likely enjoy the movie (as I did). You might even be enthralled through the first hour (as I was). But be warned: If you are expecting a good, intelligent thriller, this is not it.
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