- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: Red Nights

Also known as:
Les nuits rouges du bourreau de jade (Original title)

Year: 2010

Genre: Thriller / Crime / Horror

Language: French / Cantonese / Mandarin / English

Runtime: 98 min

Director: Julien Carbon & Laurent Courtiaud

Writer: Julien Carbon & Laurent Courtiaud


An artifact is being shipped from France to Hong Kong by a French woman named Catherine. In Hong Kong there's a dominatrix named Carrie who lures people into her chamber to kill. Carrie finds out that the artifact contains an elixir that blurs the lines between pain and pleasure and is ready to anything to get her hands on it. Catherine will be drawn into Carrie's psychosexual games before too long.

Our thoughts:
I think it'd be a lie if people here in Bizarroland pretended that psychosexual, violent and stylistic movies aren't automatically of interest to most of us. It's not every movie like it is good - hell, you know I'm a man of peculiar taste with what I like within the over-the-top, extreme, torture-esque genres. But I didn't hear much about "Red Nights" before watching it other than it being quite a stylistic kinky thriller and... that was enough to get a little excited once the DVD arrived from Njutafilms. No high expectations as I went into it, just interested to see what it had to offer.

We quickly get thrown into the things we came here for. Already in the beginning we're treated to a good looking naked woman being put into a latex contraption (I don't know the name - the kind that forms the latex around your entire body with only a hole to breathe through) and then getting clawed through her stomach by a strange dominatrix, Carrie. This will soon tie into the actual plot, where a French woman named Catherine ships an ancient artifact to Hong Kong to sell it. Her little sales trip takes a turn when Carrie finds out that the artifact is containing a vial of an elixir that turns pain to pleasure. Now Catherine's being dragged into a world of psychosexual crime and murder, but she can also fight back.

I didn't go into it with any expectations in terms of entertainment, story, acting etc. Luckily this means that even though it's a movie that lacks a thing or two, I wasn't too disappointed. I strongly believe you can get a ton of better movies, like some of the work of Takashi Ishii or Takashi Miike, if you want stylish, violent and kinky Asian cinema. Still, there are plenty of pretty use of colored lighting, some interesting violence (like the dominatrix, Carrie, wearing sharp claws to kill her victims), a few giallo-inspired moments. It's certainly a deranged little thriller, but nothing that will wow the thick-skinned (meaning all of you reading this review).

There's definitely some entertainment in "Red Nights". Most of it is within the first hour, though. The movie could've used some rewrites. The plot of the artifact/vial is rarely what we care about, but there are some fun scenes involving Catherine and Carrie. The first hour makes it easy to get through despite lacking in story, because we're just watching for some murder, pretty colors and women out-bad-assing each other. What happens after the first hour isn't anything specific, it just runs its course. We really don't care to watch nearly 40 more minutes of it because, again, the story isn't good enough for a main attraction. Essentially, once we've seen a couple of kills and the style it has to offer, we're done.

I don't have a bad taste in my mouth after "Red Nights", it was just a movie to chill with. It's lacking in several departments that could make it great, but I got what I came for in the end. It delivers a somewhat entertaining environment for the first hour and then it just gets more and more boring. If all you want is to relax with a bowl of popcorn and some beer, then I think you could do a lot worse than "Red Nights". If you want something memorable, there are a ton of other Asian and French directors that can scratch that itch. All in all, I am okay with watching this but it's not great.

Positive things:
- Playful use of colored lighting.
- It delivers enough of the violence, which is what we came for.

Negative things:
- The story never gets intriguing enough.
- Since the story isn't great, we get tired around the hour mark.

Gore: 3/5
Nudity: 2/5
Story: 2/5
Effects: 3/5
Comedy: 1/5

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