Reviewed by: Ken James
“Red Corner” offers danger, excitement, international intrigue, beautiful scenery, plausible acting, and a story with twists and turns that will leave you pleased with the outcome. But, is it just another countless courtroom-style story about the innocent man framed with the murder of a beautiful young woman after a one-night-stand?
You may think so, but this story is different. It doesn’t take place in Los Angeles or New York, but in communist China. Richard Gere is Jack Moore, a savvy American executive who happens to have some greedy enemies that frame him for the gruesome murder of a Beijing fashion model. Innocence matters little in China. Moore is a foreigner facing insurmountable evidence that he is the killer. Worse yet, the dead girl just so happens to be the daughter of a high-level Chinese military general. Things don’t look good for Jack. There is seemingly no way out of this legal system where punishment is swift and the due process of law doesn’t exist.
North Americans will sympathize naturally with Gere, the foreigner in a strange, communist land where nobody believes his innocence. But, those familiar with the “ugly American syndrome” will see several tell-tale signs that Moore thinks he is due the exact same freedoms as he would expect in his own country. With the United States Embassy refusing to help him, Moore must convince the hard-liner Chinese court that he is innocent. Fortunately, his court-appointed Chinese female attorney, Bai Ling, also becomes convinced of his innocence.
“Red Corner” serves as yet another political statement against a country famous for its human rights violations (released virtually simultaneously with “Seven Years in Tibet”). Numerous injustices are brought to light as Moore tries everything he can think of to prove his innocence.
The R-rating of this film comes from some intense brutality and the bloody scene surrounding the mysterious murder. While there was suprisingly little profanity (only about three words in English—Chinese wasn’t tallied), the opening of the film contained numerous short clips from the opening sequence of a Baywatch spinoff (lots of girls in bikinis), as well as a semi-gratuitous sex scene that implied a sexual encounter, revealed some caressing and touching, and showed the moonlit full-body side-sillhouette of Moore’s sexual partner. Non-sexual rear nudity was also an active part in displaying the brutality Jack endures while in prison.
If you are a fan of internationally-filmed locales, or of courtroom-style drama with all of the makings of an enjoyable cinematic experience, “Red Corner” won’t disappoint.