“Sex. Shagging. Making love. Whatever you want to call it, everybody does it. But nobody does it more than us Chinese. Why? Because when there’s 1.3 billion of us, that’s a hell of a lot of people getting it on.
Now if you could make a buck from each one, that’d be one hell of an industry. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d one day enter this business.”
Welcome to the Red Light Revolution, a collision of traditional Chinese sensibilities and modern sexuality.
Shunzi (Jun Zhao) is a hard working man living in Beijing who just wants to get ahead in life, but after he is fired from his job as a taxi driver his wife wastes no time kicking him out of his own home. With no choice but to move back in with his parents Shunzi makes the decision to try and find a new job as soon as possible with little regard for losing standing in the eyes of others.
After a chance meeting with an old school friend (Xiduo Jiang) Shunzi is introduced to Iggy (Masanobu Otsuka), a Japanese supplier who is interested in helping him to set up his own business by providing him with stock for a shop in exchange for a significant percentage of the profits. ‘Jokingly’ Iggy also makes Shunzi aware that if he doesn’t deliver he will break his legs. With nowhere else to go Shunzi apprehensively agrees and with the help of love interest Lili (Vivid Wang) he secretly opens “Dream of the Red Light”, an adult sex shop.
To understand from a western perspective why Shunzi would be embarrassed by this new profession is best explained through actress Vivid Wang’s comments in an interview with Eric Chenjie Pan. In this interview Vivid Wang had mentioned that she did not want to tell her parents what the film was about, believing that they would be unable to accept the subject matter calmly. Sex is still very much a taboo subject in China, despite their successful adult industry. China currently produces 70% of the world’s sex toys, and Beijing alone has over 2000 adult shops.
Sam Voutas’ Red Light Revolution (2010) challenges China’s traditional sensibilities through it’s unique concept and humour, whilst at the same time shedding light onto a nation that is quickly embracing capitalism. Presented in Mandarin with English subtitles nothing is lost in the translation. Voutas has managed to create a ‘comedy about the contradictions in modern concepts of morality’ through playful dialogue and quirky humour that provides a highly recommended insight into contemporary China.
Red Light Revolution will be released theatrically in the UK through Terracotta Distribution on the 23rd January to coincide with Chinese New Year.
Jun Zhao … Shunzi
Vivid Wang … Lili
Xiduo Jiang … Jiang
Masanobu Otsuka … Iggy
Tess Liu … Tai Tai
Directed By … Sam Voutas