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She Starts the Fire
Year: 1992 "Someday, people will remember this film!"
Lawrence Cheng and Chingmy Yau
Director: Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui
Producer: Wong Jing, Gordon Chan Car-Seung
Cast: Chingmy Yau Suk-Ching, Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui, Carol Cheng Yu-Ling, Deannie Yip Tak-Han, Lai Siu-Tin, Manfred Wong, Peter Lai Bei-Tak, John Ching Tung, Vindy Chan Wai-Yee, Lee Siu-Kei, Yuen King-Tan, Paul Chu Kong, Damian Lau Chung-Yun
The Skinny: Sometimes funny but mostly not. Pretty standard early-nineties HK crap from the Wong Jing fun factory. That means that the film was produced in the early 1990s, Wong Jing had something to do with it, and yes, the movie is crap.
by Kozo:
     Chingmy Yau does the Firestarter thing in She Starts the Fire, a mostly unfunny comedy from the early-nineties Wong Jing fun factory. Yau is Wendy, who arrives in HK to find her aunt Big Beer (Deannie Yip), but soon gets involved in more shenanigans than you could possibly imagine. She ends up living with Big Beer and her landlord Charles (Lawrence Cheng, who also directed), but it's a weird arrangement. Wendy happens to possess a strange curse, which gives her the ability to cause misfortune and light up her enemies like Drew Barrymore. Not surprisingly, Wendy is pure-hearted and impossibly kind, so she would never think of using such gifts to make money or benefit herself. She's content to be the nicest club girl at Big Beer's workplace (BB is a mama-san), and the obvious object of Charles' affection.
     However, the holier-than-thou attitude is not beyond everyone else who comes in contact with Wendy. She ends up helping Charles' boss (a feng shui charlatan played by Lai Siu-Tin) swindle people, but soon realizes that he's a greedy boor. Also, Charles' sister Tracy (Carol Cheng) and Big Beer conspire to use Wendy to rake in bucks, and evil gangsters (led by Peter Lai) appear now and then to make things annoying and dangerous. Sooner or later Wendy will discover that she's being used, and how will she react then? Besides that drama, there's also the uninteresting sight of Lawrence Cheng as a lead actor, lots of shtick with Deannie Yip hitting on Paul Chu Kong, and the always bankable sight of Chingmy Yau in red hotpants. Truly, this is a forgotten cinema classic.
     If there was supposed to be some sort of tension or creativity here, then the filmmakers (Wong Jing, Gordon Chan and Lawrence Cheng) left it back in the van. The nifty supernatural tale of Wendy and her powers plays out like a mismatched series of wacky sketches and improv wordplay, little of which happens to be funny over a decade later. Is there really much mileage left in jokes about breast cancer, urine drinking and homosexual rape? One would hope not, but if somebody out there would like to test their sense of humor, then She Starts the Fire is there for the challenge. To be sure, Wong Jing and pals packed the film with enough questionable stuff for even the most daring—or masochistic—HK Cinema fan to check out. If you're one of those people, then good luck—you'll need it. Eleven years ago this might have been suitable time-killing stuff, but sampling it nowadays only invites disappointment. Not even Chingmy Yau in hotpants makes She Starts the Fire worth the nineties flashback. (Kozo 2003)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Fortune Star/Deltamac
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

 image courtesy of Deltamac Co., Ltd. Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen