Issue #204           HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES            March 22nd, 2004

Hong Kong Digital is sponsored by Poker Industries. Please see the Hong Kong Digital home page for a special offer from Poker Industries to Hong Kong Digital readers.

Bet On Fire
(1988; Golden Harvest/Win's Movie Production)

Cantonese: Foh mo fung wan
Mandarin: Huo wu feng yun
English: Fire Dance Turbulence


RATING: 7/10


After her father (Shing Fui-on) is arrested and her mother (Chiao Chiao) is hospitalized with a heart ailment, pretty Mandy (Sharla Cheung Man) becomes a nightclub hostess in order to support her younger sister and pay for the operation their mom gravely needs. She learns the ropes from Hung (Cherie Chung Cho-hung), a seasoned B-Girl with a facial scar, whose excessive drinking periodically lands her in the hospital. The two become close friends, watching out for each other, while dealing with jealous co-workers and sleazy guests (including Wong Jing, Billy Lau Nam-kwong, Stanley Fung Shui-fan, and Nat Chan Pak-cheung). When Hung loses all of her money in the 1988 stock market crash, she attempts suicide but is saved by Mandy's intervention. In order to help her, Mandy agrees to sleep with gangland boss Tong Pun (Paul Chun Pui), despite the fact that he and his men had previously raped Hung. Tong also refused to compensate Mandy's family when her dad was imprisoned, after trying to collect from one of Tong's debtors. When Mandy's father gets out of jail and discovers what has transpired, all hell breaks loose.

Cherie Chung Sharla Cheung Cheung, Teresa Carpio (centre), Chung

While Manfred Wong's screenplay makes token attempts to present the life of HK clubgirls with a smidgen of verisimilitude, this is an exploitation movie first and foremost. On that level, it succeeds, thanks largely to an excellent performance by Cherie Chung and an effective one by Sharla Cheung (both in roles of greater depth than they are usually allotted). As the affluent villain ("You poor people dare struggle with me?!"), Paul Chun adds plenty of color with one of his customarily vivid characterizations. The violent finale is predictable but highly satisfying on an emotional level, which is where the film works best anyway. Maria Cordero (as the ladies’ mamasan), Teresa Carpio, Wu Ma, Fanny Sit Chi-lun, and Lam Chung are also featured.

Left to right: Billy Lau, Stanley Fung, Nat Chan Shing Fui-on, Cheung Paul Chun


The image is a bit on the soft and hazy side. However, the old cropped and squeezed Ocean Shores LD had a similar appearance, so this is apparently a stylistic choice on the part of director Joseph Cheung Tung-cho (POM POM AND HOT HOT) and cinematographer Tom Lau Moon-tong. Be that as it may, the DVD does offer a definite improvement, not to mention presenting the film at its proper ratio. The original mono audio has been expanded to 5.1; reverb is common and a mild hum can be heard throughout. Some stereo separations have been added and it is a reasonably good track as HK re-mixes go. A trailer and a Star File for Cherie Chung are the only supplements. The disc previewed refused to spin up in my Sony S7000 but worked in the other makes of players that I tried.

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Universe. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.

DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC -- Region 0
  • Universe Laser & Video Co. #5315
  • Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional & Simplified Chinese
  • 8 Chapters 4:3
  • Letterbox (1.85:1)
  • 96 Minutes

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Hong Kong: IIB
  • Ontario: R
  • Quebec: 13+
  • Singapore: PG (cut)
  • United Kingdom: 18 (cut by 21 sec)
  • Contains brutal violence, mild sexual violence, mild sexual content, and some coarse language


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful