DVD Review: REVENGE: A LOVE STORY

Editor, U.S. ; Dallas, Texas (@HatefulJosh)
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DVD Review: REVENGE: A LOVE STORY
Wong Ching-Po's Revenge: A Love Story is a film close to our hearts here at ScreenAnarchy. The film contains all the right elements required to make a dent in our Twitchy minds, and it does so with an incredible amount of style. The UK's Terracotta Distribution have released the film on DVD as the second of their Terror-Cotta line after Death Bell, and this is a huge step up in terms of quality. Death Bell had its moments, but Revenge is all killer, no filler, and this disc is certainly worthy of checking out.

Revenge: A Love Story is one of the most touching serial killer/revenge films of the last few years. There is genuine emotion on the screen, even though it is frequently stunted by mental illness or social awkwardness. We see hideous acts carried out by both the police and the criminals, and we end up sympathizing with the criminal because he is really the innocent in this story, or he should be.

We have a contrasting pair of reviews in our archive, one from Niels Matthijs:
Revenge: A Love Story plays like a modern Hong Kong version of Se7en, only better, more tense and not as restrained as Fincher's film. Ching-Po Wong proves the perfect director for this and delivers a film that will remain with you some days after the initial viewing. Revenge: A Love Story lacks any weak points, excels on almost every level and enhances the CatIII rating with some damn stylish film making. And if you thought Dream Home was just a lucky hit for Ho's 852 Films, this film goes to the limit to prove you wrong. Excellent stuff, comes highly recommended.
And a less positive one from Eight Rooks:
Revenge isn't bad as such - there's too much money behind it and the filmmakers are too self-aware to ever throw character development out of the window altogether. For audiences up to the challenge it's glossy, workmanlike stuff that does manage some flashes of genuine tension and the odd sick, queasy jolt of excitement. But under the chrome it's simply not half the sophisticated thriller it seems to think. So much of this has been done before - Soi Cheang's Dog Bite Dog is immeasurably better, a far more compelling look at two deeply flawed men battling it out (bar the ludicrous final five minutes, at least). For all its seedy excess, Revenge: A Love Story doesn't really make much of a mark, and as such gets a cautious recommendation at best.
I managed to catch this in the run up to Fantastic Fest and again to review this DVD and it stuck with me alarmingly well. I tend to back Niels in this case. I can't really see the Se7en connection, but it is a corker, nonetheless.

Worth mentioning is that Terror-Cotta's DVD release is apparently an uncut version when compared to the HK release. I haven't seen the HK version to compare, but that is certainly important to a lot of people and deserves notice.

I really loved Revenge: A Love Story for all of its pitch black tone and overblown drama, not to mention the incredible brutality of the characters, and the relatively subdued tone. I may be alone in that assertion, but after watching hyper-speed HK action recently from the likes of Dante Lam, it was interesting to a gritty story told in a different manner. Kudos to Wong Ching-Po, Juno Mak, and Sola Aoi for making this film better than it should have been.

The Disc:

The first Terror-Cotta disc, Death Bell, had some serious image problems. The most glaring issue with that release was that it was a non-anamorphic widescreen release, which was sort of baffling. Thankfully, in spite of the original specs, Revenge: A Love Story is anamorphic and looks significantly better.  The major downside of the image here is that it is an NTSC-PAL conversion, which I know doesn't bother some people, but during some of the action sequences there are some pretty serious jaggies. The color palate is quite muted, and I tend to think that's intentional, but I can't be sure.  The audio track fares much better, with a fairly active surround performance, though it tends to clip at the high end, perhaps it was mixed a bit too loud. I didn't find it terribly distracting, but buyer beware.

In terms of extras, we get some material ported over from HK in the form of a 25 minute making of featurette that goes into several areas of production. There are segments on the story, the action, the effects, and the curious casting of Sola Aoi. All are interesting, and it is a decent watch. Also included is an exclusive interview with producer Conroy Chan of 852 Films. There is some good information in there, but honestly, he comes off kind of douchey. Perhaps it's just me. Rounding out the extras are a batch of Terracotta trailers and a promo reel for Terracotta's annual film festival.

The image and sound aren't perfect, but they are a huge step up from Death Bell, and fell to the wayside for me once I got wrapped up in the story. The uncut status of this disc definitely makes it the version to own for all of you collectors out there. Recommended.
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