Isn't it nice when a totally uninteresting, dull and standard opening credits sequence containing random Hong Kong city shots and traffic acts as a total piece of deception? Hot Desire represents one such case and truth be told, it flashes its actual solid hand pretty soon after an opening that looked lifted out of an IFD movie by Godfrey Ho. Mixing influences ranging from Basic Instinct and Single White Female, ultimately the movie isn't working fully from those templates and delivers a well rounded portrayal of a totally lost and broken mind.
But we certainly don't expect to feel anything since our main character Ann (a very dedicated Chan Pooi-Kei) clearly is a cold-hearted, manipulative bitch stepping over each and everyone to get ahead as an author. Jealousy directed towards best friend Jean (Isabelle Chow - Sex And Zen) triggers this more than anything and out of the many men she seduces, she goes after Jean's boyfriend (Lee Ho-Kwan - 1/3 Lover)...
Showing Ann committing suicide at the start of the film before the flashback kicks into high gear, I'm glad to report director Woo Ga-Kan actually manages to maintain interest and ties together the bag leading up to this moment and along the way we've both been surprised about the quality on display and the emotional roller coaster ride of following Ann's character. There's no shortage of bad omens that Ann is of the deep end early as it involves self abortion and poisoning in the name of HOT DESIRE. The life in school that takes up the majority of the film is the basic thriller instinct working its solid magic as it's Ann the seducer and manipulator on display and of course there's hatred for this character who also triggers tragic events.
Along the way the stock score also accompanies several sex scenes but another happy report is that overall they are at least connected to the plot (only Nam Yan's sole scene where she's engaged in a little copier machine copulation is totally unwarranted as Ann only glances a little at this duo and leaves) plus Woo Ga-Kan adds a polish to the cinematography and dedication to the fact that they are supposed to be sexy excursions. They are warranted to the extent that characters have sex when happy and Ann's various seductions still connects to the plot. So pure hate for our main character Ann, yes? Not quite and for reasons I won't reveal (that does have to do with Ken Tong's supporting role as a robber), our view of her change. She's worn her intentions on her sleeve but it's deeply emotional as it turns out and we are dealing with an even more mentally ill character than we first thought. We think we know the beats and then Woo Ga-Kan takes us for an unexpected ride once Ann, Jean and the school part ways.
With a focused mood throughout and focus on the troubled character of Ann, Hot Desire is an affecting experience seemingly carved out of the same visual and aural mold as dozens of other Category III movies at the time. But scraping below the surface first reveals a solid thriller that than a little deeper in reveals a tragedy we, correctly so, feel a host of emotions about. Hate and sympathy being one in addition of the approval of the drama at hand here.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson