Continuing the examination of IFD Films & Arts catalogue that included horror, action, thrillers and fantasy of the late 70s/early 80s coming out of Taiwan, for a breakdown of the basic history of IFD, please visit the series debut review of Wolfen Ninja in addition to visiting the other highlighted movie Deadly Darling. Released in 1985 as Fury In Red (and later on as one of their cut and paste-products. Recycle, kids), it's the re-title of Richard Chen's 1982 Taiwan revenge thriller Girl With A Gun. In itself a remake of Abel Ferrara's Ms. 45 (right down to the poster art) but with added censor friendly scenes (more on that below), the film not only is a competent re-take on the vigilante classic but further proof that this period had a class in terms of quality that Joseph Lai wanted to preserve and spread.
After her parents death, Penny (Ying Hsia - Women Warriors of Kinmen aka Pink Force Warriors once IFD acquired it) goes mute after the tragedy. Working at a clothes designing company for Jimmy (Alan Tam), on her way home Penny goes through one attempted rape but also an actual one by a burglar still in her apartment. Managing to get the upper hand and killing the burglar, this sets Penny on a path of killing and bit by bit getting rid of the chopped up body in her apartment...
Those familiar with Ms. 45 will notice that Fury In Red spends more time on what leads up to our main character going mute and we do actually have a movie that plays out in flashback here. Clearly Fury In Red is a case of censors demanding such inclusions as Penny getting caught and that she's getting good treatment. Hence not all meaningless violence being that very thing... meaningless. This new structure reeking of social consciousness actually works rather well as it doesn't feel like a piss poor demand made against director Richard Chen's wishes. Perhaps the lack of visibility in the more graphic scenes were but I'll get to that.
In terms of the vigilante side to the movie and what Penny goes through, it of course isn't dissimilar to Zoë Lund's journey as Thana in Ms. 45. Something very irrational, unmotivated and degrading happens to both characters and meaningless acts spills over to the run of vengeance against other random humans. When tragedy upon tragedy is thrown at a character, no wonder your faith goes out the window and the choices are more painted in blood than rational answers. Both Abel Ferrara and Richard Chen successfully paints this bleak picture within their respective geographic settings (Abel's being the gritty streets of New York) and both has an iconic leading lady front and center.
Ying Hsia very smoothly inhabits the shell of this girl with all kinds of unfair hands dealt to her and the body mannerisms ranging from introverted to using her sexuality to get instant access to potential victims and breaking down emotionally in the face of the little humanity left that she does see, Ying Hsia comes through with an equally iconic, tragic performance. Following the same character beats as Lund's Thana, one major addition of Richard Chen's is an incredibly affecting scene of Penny witnessing a group of deaf mute people in a sing along of "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands". This tracks back to the tragedy of still witnessing humanity but the realization is that she can never return to the goodness present in this moment. It's the uniqueness Taiwan brought to it.
Not overly gory, Richard Chen still maintains a powerful, gritty and eerie nature to the expected violence throughout. Although clearly being forced to switch to introverted colours for any scenes involving the hacking up of body parts, showing them in Penny's freezer etc, it seems Chen decided to make this work FOR him instead as the switch to an obscured view adds upon an eerie nature to to the whole atmosphere (1*). Also complemented by select scenes of slow motion and loud sound design, Fury In Red maintains a basic nature Ms. 45 also had which makes it all the more deep and powerful.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson
(1) The Ocean Shores vcd of the original version expectedly has different music but is also missing brief pieces of violence showing Penny sawing through the bones of her first victim... despite it taking place in the introverted colors. IFD also cut a part of a lounge singing scene but in essence, we're dealing with nearly similar edits here. IFD having the upper hand too if you own it on Japanese VHS as it features the widescreen transfer of the film.