Her Vengeance

Like a bloody beating in the dark, like salt poured on an open infected wound – this film is unrelentingly brutal, painful and somber. The viewer is dragged through a tunnel of muck and despair, but there is no light at the end of this tunnel – just more darkness. It is a journey of pure hate and gut wrenching vengeance that is played out in shadows, tears and rain-drenched nights. The visceral need for vengeance is hypnotic to watch – but there is no catharsis, no release in the end – only more death and consequences to face up to. There are no happy endings when one sets down this path of feral revenge.
Pauline Wong and Lam Ching Ying
On the island of Macao five hooligans (Billy Chow, Shing Fui On and Chen Jing are three of them) have a run in with Pauline Wong and later that night they grab her, drag her into a cemetery and violently rape her – one by one in graphic fashion. They leave her like a used up rag doll on the ground and walk away laughing – they also leave her with a horrible case of venereal disease. In a sense she dies in that cemetery, but like a ghost from the grave she returns for what is hers. When her blind sister (Elaine Kam) finds out what has happened, she immediately tells Pauline that she must find them and kill them. The fact that these are five brutal thugs can’t deter her  - she must find them and kill them – painfully – as brutally as she was raped. Pauline agrees with the fervor of the newly converted and goes to Hong Kong where the five rapists live. She contacts her sister’s ex-husband, Lam Ching Ying, a bar owner who is now trapped in a wheelchair. He won’t help her – so she begins the hunt on her own.
There is no hesitation with the first one, but it isn’t easy – the first kill never is. She slices off his ear – “do you remember me now” – and pulls the rope around his neck and slowly sucks the life out of him – it takes a while – he fights hard for his life but her hate is stronger. The next one goes wrong – she burns his face with acid – stabs him in the gut – “do you remember me” - but he lives. Now the others know she is after them and the hunted become the hunters – and they begin back in Macao with the sister. It only gets more brutal  - the violence and hatred escalates on both sides  - a hatchet to the brain and a sharpened iron rod thrust into the belly are only stops along the way. Finally Lam Ching Ying realizes that he must help Pauline to redeem himself – and the two of them set the bait and wait in a room full of deadly booby traps. The finale is unforgettable in its drama and violence – everyone is completely committed to kill the other – even after they are already dead.
Pauline Wong and Elaine Kam
Pauline Wong and Lam Ching Ying give terrific performances and are simply riveting. The emotion and passion and hate that they emit in wordless fashion – only through the use of their burning eyes is very powerful. The cinematography captures the darkness of this world – and uses Pauline’s angular face almost as a canvass to reflect light and shadows off of. The close-ups of her anger and agony fill the screen with intensity.  The film is a one-way road to vengeance – there are no side streets – no moments of respite – no moments of humor – it is all dark and deadly.
Pauline Wong, Chen Jing and Shing Fui On

My rating for this film: 7.5

Comments by YTSL

The following is (part of) what Thomas Weisser wrote about HER VENGEANCE in his “Asian Cult Cinema”:-
“Fong Chieh-Ying (Wang Hsia-Feng) is brutally attacked and violated by five ruffians (including perennial HK villain Shing Fui On) after she rejects their crude advances.  The gang rape leaves her severely injured, suffering from an incurable venereal disease.  Ying’s sister encourages her to seek help from their uncle, Hsiung (Mr. Vampire’s Lam Ching Ying), a former triad boss now confined to a wheel chair.  Initially, he refuses to assist Ying in her mania for retribution, but he does give her a job in his nightclub.  She uses the hostess position to lure the low-life attackers into a vengeful web...” (1997:97-98).

The following are details of -- and corrections to -- what was incorrectly reported above:-
1) Fong Chieh-Ying (played by the actress who is better known to English language readers as Pauline Wong) did not (have a chance to) reject any advances by the five ruffians since they didn’t exactly make any moves to woo her.  Instead, they -- who happened to have previously killed her father and made her brother-in-law into a paraplegic -- gang raped her as “punishment” for her having stood up to their boorishness at a show and having gotten them ejected from the place where she worked as a manager.
2) After her sister learns of the brutal attack and violation, she encourages Ying to go to seek help from the former’s estranged husband, Hsiung.
3) Initially, he refuses to assist Ying with her quest for revenge, but he does find the Macau resident a place to stay in Hong Kong and also a non-hostess job in his nightclub.

Some people might excuse Weisser’s inaccurate reportage by saying that he at least got the basic plot details right (I.e., a woman gets gang raped and decides to actively seek retribution).  Some others will probably say:  What did you expect?  After all, this is the man who -- in the previously cited publication -- furnished evidence of his not being able to tell apart Brigitte Lin from Gong Li, and Yukari Oshima from Michelle Yeoh (See the captions for the photos that accompany the “The Dragon Chronicles” and “Project S” entries in the book).  Still others might ask:  Why care so much about the accurate reporting of the details of a rape revenge movie?

To those who make the latter enquiry, here are my two main reasons for wanting to point out Weisser’s lack of reliability with regard to HER VENGEANCE:-
1) If he is not to be trusted to get right the details of the kind of movie one might expect him to have really viewed, then surely this is saying that he should pretty much never be trusted.
2) The kind of details that he got wrong are precisely those that give greater depth of cultural and psychological meaning and emotion to much of what is seen to transpire in the film.  Put another way:  I’d submit that they are what can make proceedings have a better resonance and show this gripping production to be a better work than people might otherwise think it was/is.  And what use is a movie reviewer if he cannot help his readers gain a better appreciation of that whose merits he was actually extolling (For the record:  Weisser awarded HER VENGEANCE a 3 star rating using a 4 star scale)?

My own rating for the film:  8.0