un and Kill" is another Category III film
from the prolific master of the genre, Billy Tang ("Red
to Kill", "Dr.
Lamb"). Given the trashy DVD cover and the rating, prospective
viewers would be forgiven for expecting another bargain basement splattering
of badly plotted sex and violence.
However, "Run to Kill"
is actually very different than expected, being a suspenseful action film
that whilst extremely violent and unflinchingly nasty, is also quite funny
and carries an interesting message. It stands apart from the vast majority
of Category III efforts by being nicely structured, well directed, and
perhaps most shocking of all, actually resembles a 'proper' film. Although
the content is generally distasteful, and though there are a few truly
horrific scenes, this is a film that may appeal to viewers in general, far
more so than the other, inferior sleaze-fests it is usually lumped in with.
The plot is centered on Cheung (Kent Cheng, "Ancient
Chinese Whorehouse"), a friendly fat man who runs a gas store and
has an apparently happy family life. Things change when he catches his
wife (Li Li, "Suburb
Murder") in bed with another man, and he turns to the bottle for
comfort. Unfortunately for him, while getting drunk in a bar his sorrows
are overheard by a girl who offers to put him in contact with a guy who
can kill his wife for him. Hopelessly drunk, Cheung agrees, and the next
morning the killing is carried out by some Vietnamese thugs. Matters turn
even worse when Cheung cannot afford to pay the gang, and he flees to the
Chinese mainland where he takes refuge with another gang, including
dangerous psychotic Fung (Simon Yam, recently in "Moving
Targets"). Things get badly out of control and Cheung finds
himself on a rollercoaster ride to hell that threatens to claim his life
and the lives of those he loves.
"Run and Kill" works surprisingly well as
an action film, mainly because director Tang makes an effort to break with
the general conventions of the Category III film. The narrative is tight
and fast-paced, with a logical if nightmarish sequence of events, and the
proceedings are thankfully free of the pointless sex scenes that usually
slow down similar genre films. The whole story is actually quite gripping
and unpredictable, keeping the viewer guessing from start to finish. Given
that the film is very violent and nihilistic, this often takes the rather
base form of trying to guess what will go wrong next; but still, the
effort is much appreciated.
Similarly, there are no wild shifts in tone, and
apart from a few comedic scenes at the start used to establish Cheung's
love for his family, the film generally sticks to its guns. This gives the
action and violence far more impact than they might otherwise have had,
and there are some generally harrowing scenes. Tang is actually quite
restrained (by his standards at least) and instead of the usual
bombardment of gore and rape, he picks his moments carefully, eschewing
out and out sadism for gritty, bloody action. Having said this, viewers
should be warned that one scene in particular is utterly horrifying and
Untold Story" for the award of most shocking murder sequence.
Also quite unusual for the genre is the fact that the
characters are fleshed out, and if not believable, at least somewhat
sympathetic. This is especially true of Cheung, whose transformation from
mild mannered fat man to enraged killer is gradual and effective. There is
even a degree of moral shading, with some effort made to explain the
motivations of lead madman Fung. Thankfully the acting is quite good
(especially in comparison to similar films), most notably Yam, who gives a
terrifying and intense performance as Fung.
The message behind "Run and Kill" seems to
be that we must all take responsibility for our actions, whether drunk or
not. This interesting and universal theme is touched upon several times,
and is never hammered home or cheapened with overly obvious plotting.
Again, this serves to lift the film above other Category III films that
strive for little more than cheap titillation.
Overall, "Run and Kill" comes highly
recommended, not only to Category III fans, but also to fans of Asian
cinema in general. It is an exciting, violent ride of a film that keeps
the viewer on the edge of their seat trying to guess both where the plot
will go next and which cast members will survive to tell the tale.