The opening three minutes of this film, leading into the credits, are nicely calculated to reel you in. The long-shot on the bridge, the spurned young girl who slashes her wrist, which launches straight into a terrific driving piece of music (by early 80s supergroup Sky, probably from the SKY II album) which drives the credits. The next twenty minutes drops the pace to a pretty slow, dangerously bordering on dull, light romance. But don't despair ! This is not just another soppy romance, which Brigitte had made by the dozen. We soon learn that the man who is romancing her is, at least, unstable and dangerous. The tension of this story grows from the gradual revelation of just how dangerous this guy is, and how long it'll be before Brigitte finds that out.
Reviewer Score: 9
There is so much that is impressive about this film. If ever I doubted Patrick Tam's skill as a director (The Sword, for example), Love Massacre wipes those doubts away. From around the 20 minute mark, the buildup and pace of the tension is controlled with exquisite precision. There are some wonderful visuals, particularly the flapping red, white and blue sheets in the final scene. The recurring use of the colour red is very well done, and of course this refers to the amount of blood being spilt. The romantic male lead, after all, does become a serial killer. Brigitte Lin puts in a great performance, possibly her best.
The setting of the film in California struck me as odd, but it works quite well. This film, despite the actors all being Chinese, is very much a straight American thriller, and perhaps that's why Tam set it there. The director seems to have had a decent budget to work with. For one thing, the film is made in synch-sound (still rare in the early 80s). And curiously, seeing as it's a Taiwanese cast, the dialogue was recorded in Cantonese. This is one of the few times I've ever seen actor's lips moving in almost faultless sync !
A warning - the last one-third of this film sees a very free flow of blood, which is emphasized by the lead characters choosing to wear all-white clothes (another impressive visual device). Certainly not for those with a weak stomach. Otherwise, highly recommended.