Friday, 20 January 2012


In this film, subtitled A Sex Shop Comedy, Greek Australian director and writer Sam Voutas, the son of a diplomat who partly grew in Beijing, where he now resides, uses the genre of comedy to have a humorous, yet hard hitting on the growth of Chinese capitalism, where it seems that everybody bends, sometimes a little, sometimes much more that that, to get ahead, including estate or party officials, where becoming rich as fast as possible seems to be the only measure of success. In particular, its burgeoning sex shop industry does not only creates opportunities for suspect business ventures, but also highlights the conflict between modernity and tradition, particularly in relation to sexual values. It is indicative that Red Light Revolution, which is having a limited release in Britain on Monday 23rd of January at The Prince Charles Cinema to coincide with the Chinese New Year celebration (click here for more information), the first ever public showing apart from last year London Far East Film Festival, has not been shown in China at all. It is doubtful that it will be ever released there at all (I hope I am wrong on this).

For contemporary Western standards, in spite of having been subtitled A Sex Shop Comedy, it is very tame, so if you, my dear reader, expect to be titillated by it, you will be wasting your money. I hope that it will have a wider release in Britain, as it is very funny, the warmth of the actors playing the roles of the protagonists being so contagious that I could not stop smiling, and laughing, all the way through at their antics and their humanity.

Shunzi (Jun Zhao), a Beijinger in his thirties, loses his job as a cab driver after a difference of opinions with the owner. The consequence being that he also loses both his home and his wife (Tess Liu), as she kicks him out, in the presence of her lover, his mistake having been to register the deeds of the house on her name. Seeking refuge in his parents home with his beloved dog, he cannot sleep because of the constant sound coming from their bedroom, which he first attributed to rats, then to... well... rabbits. He meets Lili (Vivid Wang), a bright twenty something, in a dead end job promoting a diet tea brand. Most importantly, he also bumps into an old school chum, a man who carries a gigantic dong in his briefcase, who convinces him that his future resides in opening a sex shop, as there is quick and easy money and no capital needed, a Japanese investor he knows will provide that.

This investor, Iggy (Masanobu Otsuka) more like a gangster who fancies himself as a painter with a penchant for breaking knee caps, does supplies him with a stock of sex toys, provided that Shunzi gets a business permit, but his conditions are extortionate. He partners with Lili, as she has the keys for an empty empty, and Dreams of Red Light opens for business, the first day being a disaster, as they encounter the prejudices of the older generation... but, wait... the night was something else. All the old and young owls populate the shop, their prejudices melting in the darkness, the shop becoming very popular until one day...

Disaster strucks as Shunzi forgot all about the business permit. All their attempts to get one are practically rendered useless, as they battle with government bureaucracy, going round and round, at one point we see them struggling to fill a form to enquiry for a form for a business permit. On top of that, the small “favours” given to the local neighbourhood watch official to divert his attention from their business are unfruitful, as their stock is discovered, and confiscated. Iggy is most displeased at the situation, grabbing not only all their takings, but demanding even more...

What to do?

And here is when salvation comes, in the shape of tradition...

Kudos given to Jun Zhao, as Sunzi, and Vivid Wang as Lili, as they basically carry Red Light Revolution on their shoulders with their humour and warmth, with an excellent supporting cast which, I suspect, of not professional actors, at least, most of them. Sam Voutas has a cameo appearance as Jack Deroux, the Western sex industry magnate, the man with six Ferraris in his garage.

Some information on the sex shop industry, provided by the distributor:

Fun Facts
1:                 Number of sex shops in Beijing in 1996
2000+:        Number of sex shops in Beijing in 2010
1.3 trillion:   Number of condoms made in China every year
70%:           Percentage of world’s sex toys made in China
Shanghai:   Site of the world’s largest sex expo
10,000 +:    Number of sex toys companies in China
1:                 Number of feature films about these shops

Red Light Revolution is distributed in Britain by Terracota Distribution, and it is having its theatrical opening on Friday 20th January 2012.

The DVD will be released in Britain on the 13th February 2012.

For screenings please click HERE.

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