NO MORE BETS (孤注一掷) (2023)

Genre: Crime
Director: Shen Ao
Cast: Zhang Yixing, Gina Chen Jin, Darren Wang, Sunny Sun, Zhou Ye
Runtime: 2 hr 10 mins
Rating: NC16 (Violence & Some Coarse Language)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures 
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 14 September 2023

Synopsis: The film is based on tens of thousands of real fraud cases, and the horrifying inside story of the entire industry chain of overseas cyber fraud. Programmer Pan Sheng and model Anna were attracted by an overseas recruitment ad and went abroad to seek wealth, but they were scammed and ended up working in a factory. In order to leave, the two are going to attack the gambler Ah Tian and his girlfriend Xiao Yu, take their money, and complete their business... Can Pan Sheng and Anna escape from the cruel leaders of the fraud group, Manager Lu and Ah Cai? Facing cross-border investigations and pursuit of the police, where can they escape to? 

Movie Review:

If you don’t already know, the fact that you are reading this review on the Internet means your online activity is probably being tracked. How you are clicking through the website, your mouse movements, the scroll depth and other navigation patterns are important pieces of information that can be analysed to monitor and collect your browsing behaviour. If it is any consolation, you are probably one of the millions of Internet users who are part of this ongoing activity used by corporations to grow their businesses.

And that is why this Mainland Chinese production is a stark reminder that the Internet can be a scary place if you fall prey to the traps set up by unscrupulous online scammers.

Produced by Ning Hao and directed by Shen Ao, it tells the story of Pan (Zhang Yixiang), a programmer and Anna (Gina Chen), a model who find themselves in an unnamed Southeast Asian country to be part of an organisation executing cyber scams through online gambling and gasp, crypto-related frauds. If you aren’t familiar with how cryptocurrencies work, it is best you steer clear of any related dealings that promise a fortune.

Through a clever non linear storytelling structure, we see how Pan and Anna join the organisation managed by Lu (Eric Wang) and have no way out of the system once they are sucked in. It is a horror seeing how the two are coerced into the scheme with the threat of violence and torture. As the plot is based on the director’s research on true life incidents, one can only imagine how scary it is to be trapped in a foreign country running scams with no way home.

Elsewhere, there is another storyline where we see Tianzhi (Darren Wang), a young man with a promising future becoming a victim of the online fraud. Without saying too much, the ending for this character is melodramatically tragic and that sets up another side plot where his girlfriend (Zhou Ye) is determined to spread awareness about online scams, and a police officer (Yong Mei) goes all out to crack down the fraud factory.

With a runtime of 130 minutes, this well produced thriller is constantly engaging, thanks to the committed performances delivered by the ensemble cast. Zhang, who made his debut in showbiz as a member of the boyband Exo, shed his pretty boy image to play a nerdy programmer who gets embroiled in this dismaying experience and has to find a way to escape. It is harrowing to watch his repeated attempts and it’ll keep you at the edge of your seat. Chen’s character of a model who wants to become famous is also one you can sympathise with, and the actress does a good job in portraying someone who is stuck in a very bad situation.

As the movie progresses and you see the Chinese officials going all out to bust the bad guys, you also realise this is a heavy handed approach to promote an anti fraud public message. There is even an end credit montage where real life victims talk about their experience and how they feel safer back home. It is no wonder why the movie made it to the top at the box office in the world on the opening weekend after general release. There is another upcoming movie from China about online romance scams, and we can’t wait.

Movie Rating:


(A well-executed movie that delivers the thrills and sheds light on the horrors of online frauds, while sending an important message about being careful with your online activities)

Review by John Li

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