Scarlet (Wong Wing-Fong) loses her husband John (Cheung Ah-Sam) at the hands of vicious gangster Spicy (Charlie Cho) as well as her baby so revenge is on her mind. Befriending cop Wayne (Michael Tong) during this time, of concern is also little Jay whose the only witness to the murder...
From the director of Virago (aka Deadly Silver Angels), Cheng Chi-Chiu ended up directing during the Category III exploitation sex movie explosion of 1993-1994 in Hong Kong where any random idea seemingly was made into a movie just as long as it had some nudity and/or heavier duty violence. Random being a bit of a key word for Fatal Rose.
MOSTLY but not totally the revenge thriller the plot summary indicates, within quite an ordinary and even stale frame, Cheng has lead Wong Wing-Fong at his disposal as both a gorgeous woman to elevate the eroticism of the sex scenes (that such scenes would be sexy at all during this time was not a given) but Wong brings intent and teeth in her presence as she switches into ruthless killer essentially. The nasty adds interest, although it's clear the movie pads the running time with sex scenes shot with little to no interest (angle from behind, cut to angle from the side and so forth).
The prime enjoyment of Fatal Rose is felt more strongly if you know this filmmaking period and one of its more frequent players Charlie Cho. Usually cast in light roles as sex starved businessman or pervert, the character of Spicy is a nasty piece of work who slices throats, fingers and has sex continually throughout the movie. It's not an award winning game changer for the actor nor thoroughly a natural fit but it's still very entertaining to see him shed all traits of perverted fun.
Having said that, this is a Hong Kong movie and two thirds in it sheds its intent to unsettle us when Spicy goes after his young witness. Because all of a sudden Fatal Rose turns into Home Alone for a brief period, making Spicy a buffoon and clown but of course, the switch back to Scarlet's dark tale is done almost as quick. Fatal Rose doesn't really elevate the frame technically compared to its brothers and sisters during this period of busy production and admittedly looks very flat. But the fair teeth mainly shown during the first half, the shocker of seeing Charlie Cho experiment in darkness and the reassurance this movie is comfortable with being silly makes for swift entertainment. Rightly, it should leave your consciousness quick though.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson