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Movie Review

Red Corner

Reviewed by: Ken James

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
95 min.
Year of Release:

Starring: Richard Gere, Bai Ling, Tzi Ma / Director: Jon Avnet / Released by: MGM/UA

“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.

Viewer Comments
Sorry, I thought there was nothing new or original about “Red Corner”—a bunch of cliches from other movies (getting ambushed in a back alley after the escort conveniently disappears—“Clear and Present Danger,” anyone?) And with Gere’s outspoke interest in the inhumanity in China, very little was actually touched upon. How about the Christian persecution? What about the 1-child only policy? There are many other issues that weren’t even mentioned. This story could be set in any country—this was such a great opportunity to really get the word out on China’s horrible human rights policies (especially with Jiang’s recent visit), but it was sorely missed.
—Lane Todd Denson
I enjoyed the plot of the movie very much in that we are reminded of the freedoms we have. The movie began rather strangely—with a lot of freeze frames and flash backs. It was rather slow getting going. The plot its self was good though. The stark difference between American freedoms and the political anarchy was very evident. And the kindness of the American was touching. The young female lawyer made me feel as though we—like her—have stood by and let bad things happen and said and done nothing to make a difference. She finds her voice and makes a difference at the end.

I must say I found the movie very entertaining once it got going past the sex scene. The illicit sex scene is much too much for any Christian to witness. Please don’t take children to see this one. There is also some language that is offensive but not a lot of it.
—Vicki Squibb, age 43