This week on Radio 3’s Morning Brew I review the remake of Point Break, set in the world of extreme sports, as well as Ron Howard’s In The Heart Of The Sea, recounting the story that inspired Moby Dick, and local crime thriller Port Of Call, starring Aaron Kwok.
Based on real events, Philip Yung’s latest exploration into Hong Kong’s disaffected youth details the grisly murder of a teenage prostitute and the efforts of an eccentric police detective (played by Aaron Kwok) to understand the motives of both the victim and her killer. Blending social commentary with police procedural, Port of Call – which was shot by Christopher Doyle – is an absorbing and at times grisly portrayal of modern Chinese society and adolescent apathy that hits enough genre beats to ensure it a life beyond local audiences.
Can love be found in the darkest of places can beauty exist amongst decay and death? These lofty, poetic questions pulse within Ruined Heart: Another Lovestory Between A Criminal & A Whore, the latest film from director, Khavn, set in the crowded, cramped and crime-infested back streets of Manilla.
Tadanobu Asano plays The Criminal, a hard-man enforcer who seems omnipresent in the seedy local nightlife. He meets, or perhaps rescues The Prostitute (Nathalia Acevedo) and they begin a romance, amongst the harsh and brutal human zoo where they work. Their story is simple, told in images and songs, since Ruined Heart has no real dialogue, there are words, poems and lyrics, we see conversations, but we don’t hear them.
It seems almost churlish to point out there is a fair bit of sex and violence in Ruined Hearts. The beatings and murders are brutal, merciless and gory. The sex is vivid and confrontational. In one scene we see a close up of the The Prostitute’s face, slowly rocking from side to side in throes of pleasure, while a trail of semen runs down from her lips. In another, the camera slowly pans back and forth, then back an forth again across a wild, expansive orgy, in a tableau that makes Peter Greenaway’s films look tame by comparison.
For much of the film The Criminal wears a cast on his left arm, to which is attached a GoPro video camera, of the kind we normally see used to shoot amazing Point Of View sports footage. In Ruined Heart this camera gives a unique take on hand-held cinematography, especially as it tracks The Criminal running through crowded and garishly lit alleyways.
Cinematographer Christopher Doyle is given license to explore a number of camera techniques. In addition to the GoPro and more conventional 35mm formats, we get some hypnotic tilt-shift work and even a dentist’s probe camera at one point.
And, while the visuals, full of rich, vibrant tungsten blues constantly catch the eye, our hearing is equally arrested by a challenging dense, yet thematically connected score. Not only did Khavn write and direct Ruined Heart, he is also behind most of the music.
There’s no question Ruined Heart has it’s own unique kind of cinematic swagger. This audaciously hallucinogenic, crypto-pornographic fable of the night will not be for everyone. But for film goers who like their action dark, seething and drenched in bodily fluids, Ruined Heart is sure to appeal.