This Chinese sex comedy may not be entirely successful, but it is made with heart.
The phrase ‘Chinese sex comedy’ sounds like the synopsis of an upcoming Woody Allen film. Or the name of some awful student band. But, in fact, it’s an apt description for this low-key and irreverent film that attempts to shed some light on a little-observed aspect of Chinese culture.
After being fired from his job as a taxi driver, Shunzi (Jun Zhao) returns home to his soon-to-be-ex-wife. With little in the way of future prospects, he moves back in with his parents and tries to figure out what to do next. After bumping into an old school friend, Shunzi decides that his next venture will be to open a sex shop – something rather tricky in conservative China.
Whether dealing with insane sex toy suppliers, or going to increasingly farcical lengths to keep his profession from his parents, Shunzi is soon left wondering why he got into this business in the first place.
Red Light Revolution is a low-budget affair pitched somewhere between social documentary and Carry On jolly. Blending broad slapstick sequences with long monologues about how sex sells, Sam Voutas’ film feels slightly disjointed, failing to decide exactly what it wants to be. It’s not helped by the fact that the action feels rather stagey and – at points – a little too farcical for its own good.
But Voutas (an Australian who has been living in China for many years) and the rest of the cast have their heart in the right place, at least. Despite its flaws, there’s a real joie de vivre to Red Light Revolution. With several playful moments (including some lovely intertitles stating ‘Scene Deleted’ – a knowing jab at the Chinese censors) and some interesting points to make about China’s attitude to sex, the film just about manages to get through on charm alone.
A comedy from China about sex? What next? A drama from Antarctica about suntan lotion?
Often a bit too broad and over the top but there are one or two moments that raise both smiles and interesting questions.
A brave attempt to do something different. Revolution may not be entirely successful, but it is made with heart.