DVD Review – Red Light Revolution (2012)

The world is sadly still in the middle of a financial meltdown but in China things do look on financial terms a lot healthier,some people may not know they are the fast growing market globally. No matter where in the world you are there’s a little three letter word that connects us all and that’s sex and it’s making the world go round. A lot of us enjoy it, some don’t others need that little extra kink in their sex lives so it’s no surprise to learn that China produces 70% of the world’s sex toys! So would it surprise you if I said Red Light Revolution is a sex comedy from China? Guess what It’s true!

Australian born Sam Voutas’ Red Light Revolution follows young Beijinger Shunzi (Zhao Jun)who is a bit down on his luck, lost his job as a taxi driver, goes home thrown out by his wife who is having an affair with his wife who has just filled for divorce. Now unemployed, living back at home with his parents Shunzi finds a part time job selling diet drugs in local supermarkets with Lili (Vivid Wang)a job that’s going nowhere.It is here Shunzi bumps into an old school friend Jiang who offers him a chance to earn a fast buck and the secret to his (Jiang) own success….selling sex toys!

Wrestling with his morals Shunzi finally agrees and Jiang introduces his friend to his Japanese supplier Iggy (Masanobu Otsuka) who right away demands 80% of all weekly profits or he’ll break Shunzi’s legs!  Now with his merchandise of plastic toys and blow up dolls Lili offers Shunzi her grandparents old shop for free, but it’s in a conservative part of the city with the majority of residents elderly. With no permit to run a shop, local communist official inspecting weekly, very few customers that are either old or underage, a Japanese gangster as a supplier will Shunzi succeed and earn that does he desperately deserves?

Sex, shagging, making love. Whatever you want to call it we’re all at it. But nobody does it more than us Chinese

Despite the facts I’ve mentioned China is still a very conservative country when it comes to values and ‘taboo subjects’ such as sex. Red Light Revolution is a satirical light-hearted look at the taboo subject which doesn’t take the gross route many sex-inspired comedies seem to do these days, it’s more Carry On style minus the slapstick stupidity but quirkier. The film highlight’s China’s changing of attitude from old traditional communist values to a more opened capitalist view, ironically the generation of people you would expect to be more traditional the older generation are actually the ones in this film have the more opened attitude towards sex. My last girlfriend was Chinese and I was fortunate to learn to see first hand some of those values, China is a changing country so face value they are more opened but behind those changes especially politically the old ways are still there and in the film old man Qu the local communist official represents those views as he plods around the neighbourhood as if he was ‘big brother’.

The biggest strength of this film is it’s cast especially its two main characters Shunzi (Zhao Jun) and Lili (Vivid Wang) who are like Ying & Yang, engaging, sassy backed up with some fantastic comedy time from Zhao Jun. It seems Voutas has used a predominately unknown cast, possibly first timers who all give a performance which just feels so naturalistic making a more enjoyable viewing, even the director makes a cameo as the sex industry magnate with not just one but six Ferrari’s! We sometimes think our western brand of humour is universal and how wrong we are to think like that. China has its own brand of humour and despite the director not been Chinese he has captured that humour very well which to Western ears can be very difficult to understand. What I learned about the comedy it is very Carry on style, not smutty, just a little naughty and a perfect example in the film is Shunzi’s grandparents and their ‘viagra style’ potion.

Red Light Revolution isn’t the perfect film which may not have a lot of depth but what we do get is a light hearted enjoyable tale which has loveable characters who are blessed with comical timing. The film may not be brimming with big laughs but what it does have is a story that feels very realistic that will leave you with a smile on your face.

★★★1/2| Paul Devine

Comedy | China, 2010 | 15 | 13th February 2012 (UK) | Terracotta Distribution |Dir.Sam Voutas | Jun Zhao, Vivid Wang | Buy:[DVD]

Originally posted at Cinehouse | 13th February 2012

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