Love To Kill 虐之戀 (1993) Review

Released in the same year with The Untold Story <八仙飯店之人肉叉燒飽>, which also happened to star Anthony Wong, Love To Kill <虐之戀> sees the Category III screen veteran plays the role of Sam, an abusive husband who likes to spend time torturing and humiliating his wife, Jade (Elizabeth Lee).

She eventually had enough and decides to bring her son along and seek refuge at Hung’s (Danny Lee) place, a kind-hearted cop who tries to save her from her husband. When Sam finds out his wife and son are missing, he determines to track them down at all cost.

Love To Kill <虐之戀> is only Billy Chung’s third directorial effort following his 1991’s Legend Of The Brothers <四大家族之龍虎兄弟> and 1992’s Inspiration Nightmare <越軌迷情> and he already proved his worth as an accomplished visual stylist with a flair for all things shocking and repulsive. This is particularly evident during the earlier scene where Sam violently raped his wife and at one point, he even uses a beer bottle.

Law Kam-Fai and Sammy Lau Wing-Kin’s script established the rocky relationship as well as the marital tension between Sam and Jade well enough, while Sam’s abusive behaviour is given a familiar but effective backstory involving his grim childhood.

Of course, all of this wouldn’t have worked if not for Anthony Wong’s spot-on performance as the psychotic Sam. It’s the kind of character that only Anthony Wong can master such a performance and if it wasn’t for his memorable role in The Untold Story <八仙飯店之人肉叉燒飽> released in the same year, I bet he would land a Best Actor nomination in the Hong Kong Film Awards for this one instead. Elizabeth Lee delivers an equally solid performance — a role that I found it hard to believe that she’s got robbed for a Best Actress nomination.

While the movie did well in most parts, Love To Kill <虐之戀> ultimately got bogged down by its inevitable silliness that stretches a tad too long. The middle part of the movie particularly fares the worst, with the extended comedic moment where Hung fantasised about Jade after seeing her in skimpy clothes (an obvious excuse to showcase Elizabeth Lee’s attractive body figure) being the prime example. It doesn’t help either when Danny Lee’s supporting role is mostly reduced to comic relief. I understand that adding comic relief to an otherwise grim Category III movie was a standard filmmaking practise back then. But as mentioned earlier, Love To Kill <虐之戀> went a bit too far and could have done better with a fair amount of restraint.

Thankfully, Billy Chung didn’t disappoint once the movie reaches its violent third act. The part involving a close-up shot of a nail penetrated through one of the character’s eyes still made me feel queasy even after years of watching it.

THREE-stars

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