She Starts the Fire (1992)


She Starts the Fire (Pen Hou Nu Lang)

Hong Kong. 1992.


Director/Screenplay – Jing Wong


John Ching (Charlie Tiu), Chingmy Yau (Wendy), Carol ‘Do Do’ Cheng (Big Beer)


Charlie Tiu falls in love the beautiful Wendy. However, she has been bewitched by a wizard as a child and has the ability to bring curses about simply by speaking them, as well as to start fires when she gets aroused. Charlie and Wendy are beset by crime kingpin Brother Cannon who desires Wendy and Wendy’s conniving aunt Big Beer who desires to exploit Wendy for money as a psychic.

This absurd, energetic Hong Kong caper seems like a comedic take on Firestarter (1984) – or perhaps even more closely Nice Girls Don’t Explode (1987). During the early 1990s, for a couple of years there were a number of films that kept trying to play Firestarter for laughs – see also the likes of Pyrates (1991) and Wilder Napalm (1993).

There is a silliness to She Starts the Fire that frequently verges on delirium, something the jaunty score seems determined to keep up whenever the comedy is in danger of flagging. Unfortunately, the film suffers many of the problems that Hong Kong films do, which is a frequent disregard for the necessity for plot. The film almost completely lacks anything remotely resembling narrative and seems to sprawl from one set-piece to the next at times without the slightest connection.

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