The funky pleasure of femme-vs.-femme intrigue, assassins and dragon ladies is undone by an ersatz fusion of giallo and John Woo-ish Hong Kong gunplay in “Red Nights.” Glossy, dumb item offers evidence that Gallic co-directors Julien Carbon and Laurent Courtland are fans of the genres in question, but their handling is utterly ham-fisted. Too many lethargic passages undermine the pic’s deep-midnight S&M weirdness and star Carrie Ng’s over-the-top camp appeal, restricting specialty item to DVD shelves.

Opening 10 minutes establish Ng’s evil Carrie as a connoisseur of sadism, taking a gal pal to a lavishly designed lair, encasing her naked body in latex and killing her with giant claw-like fingernails. A silly plot ensues involving a valuable jade object, dating back to China’s first emperor, that Carrie wants and French femme fatale Catherine (Frederique Bel) has. Once Carrie gets her way, more sadism is delivered in pic’s only memorable scene, involving a perfectly mixed martini and a gruesomely tortured victim care of those killer claws. Ng Man-ching’s lensing in dramatic Hong Kong locations and Horace Ma’s lush production design dress up this empty exercise.

Red Nights

Hong Kong-France

  • Production: A French Connection/Red East Pictures production, in co-production with Artemis Productions and Cine. (International sales: Films Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Ada Wu, Alexis Dantec. Co-producers, Philippe Carcassonne, Patrick Quinet. Directed, written by Julien Carbon, Laurent Courtland.
  • Crew: Camera (color, HD), Ng Man-ching; editor, Sebastien Prangere; music, Seppuku Paradigm; production designer, Horace Ma; costume designers, William Fung, Claire Fraisse. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Midnight Madness), Sept. 15, 2010. Running time: 98 MIN.
  • With: With: Frederique Bel, Carrie Ng, Carole Brana, Stephen Wong, Jack Kao. (French, Cantonese, Mandarin dialogue)
  • Music By: