How strange. I found this film on my PC, from one of my download sessions. I have no recollection whatsoever of downloading it, or indeed if anything would have attracted me to it. And despite my intention to only talk about films I really like, I thought it was worth a few words.
“Sweet Revenge” is I suppose what you would call a psychological thriller. Yung (Fan Bing Bing) is a young girl, who is apparently suffering from some major yet unspecified illness. After some years apart she has been reconciled with her brother Siu-chun (Nick Cheung), who by sheer chance is in a relationship with an old friend of hers (Li Tong). A chance meeting with a rather depressed bric-a-brac shop owner, Shing (Anthony Wong) leads her into a potential relationship, but a chance discovery leads her down a path that exposes the truth behind her parents death some 20 years ago.
The performances are not bad at all. Nick Cheung doesn’t have an awful lot to do for most of the film, other than mope around as a rather detached insurance agent, but he is convincing as his world is unravelled. I have not seen an awful lot of Fan Bing Bing in contemporary roles, but she is eminently watchable, much more than a pretty (if sickly face). Anthony Wong brings an element of class to proceedings, even if he is sidelined for a huge swathe of the conclusion.
Some of the camerawork is very nice, and it does try to do some interesting things. It just has two huge problems.
Firstly, it really struggles to set up the story. We find things out about the non-twist parts of the story at really strange times: why wait for the last few minutes to discover Shing is agoraphobic (and indeed what point does it serve? Plus it is utterly inconsistent with an important scene); There is something interesting that could have been told about the siblings re-connection, but again it remains mentioned only in passing; would it really be that hard to just SAY what ails Yung?; and seriously – what is going on with Siu-chun’s Robin Hood-like attitude to medical insurance?
Secondly, the implementation of the underlying story sucks. It depends on about 5 chance events occurring – that Yung would meet Wong’s character at all (and that whole relationship just sort of ‘happens’), that Wong’s character would have a camera belonging to her father, that he would know her brother, that after all these years Siu-chun would be in a relationship with a girl that has known Yung for years? And seriously – the key clue is a the accidental supply of a movie that just happens to have the same twist as story we are telling? I could go on…
Oh, and the various little pieces of the opening 10 minutes? I assumed they were deliberately obscure clues for later – but if anyone can tell me what on earth was gong on with Yung’s attack on a man that gives us nothing more than an excuse for her scarring, I’ll name check you here.
And, the twist? Well I saw it coming a long way off.
There is a word for films like this. Adequate. Which in itself is fine, until you look at the excellent cast involved. There is the potential for a rather good little mystery here, but it is put together in such an uninteresting, and let’s face it, slap dash way, that any chance of redemption is lost. If I am getting the twist some 30 minutes before it is revealed, and believe me, I don’t even usually leave my brain on when watching a film to process such things, then the film-makers have not tried hard enough.
I think the biggest shame is that this could have been a hell of a lot better in the correct hands. It feels like a pale imitation of a Pang Brothers film. There is the germ of something good here, but the execution is hideous.
It’s not that this film is awful awful, but I could not recommend it to you all, my dear faithful readership.