The X-Files

Season 3 Episode 19

Hell Money

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Mar 29, 1996 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (12)

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out of 10
293 votes
  • Dark China Ghosts

    A dark episode about Ghosts in Chinese believes that used to make a gambling game to trade human's organs in exchange of false hope

  • An arm and a leg

    We skip the super natural, the unexplainable this time around and instead get an investigation into illegal games involving the sale of body parts. The frog popping out from the dead man's chest is a highlight as well as James Hong, a veteran actor who gives his character some real depth when Scully questions him about his sordid business.
  • Hell Money

    Hell Money was a superb and entertaining episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because the story was interesting as it dealt with Chinese customs and beliefs. The Game was intriguing and suspenseful because of the risks involved. It was fun watching Mulder and Scully investigate with the help of an American born Chinese Police Officer. Every thing played out as could be expected. I look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!
  • Takashi Miike should have done it


    “Hell money” sees Mulder and Skully delve in to the Chinese underworld. With a plot that could have been taken from a Takashi Miike film, the plot unfolds to reveal a deadly game where losers must donate organs. There are some nice touches to this episode but it is a rather slow paced affair. Overall its Average, but with a nice opening and ending. There’s not really much to say about “Hell Money” apart from that it offers insight to Chinese culture that the viewer may have not know about. There’s quite a bit of subtitle reading in this one too! 6 out of 10.
  • Mulder and Scully investigate a strange game

    Following the previous episode, which struggled hard to find direction, this episode seemed to have found one, but it still didn't make it all that interesting. Sure, the plot was unique and very dark and fit in with the atmosphere of an X-File, but to me, it didn't feel like there was that much supernatural going on here. In fact, I think the episode would've worked better if there was less focus on the "ghosts" or supposed ghosts and more on the interaction between Mulder, Scully and Chao. Instead, we get very quick scenes leaping from one scene to the next, never fully focusing on anything.

    I was really interested with the plot though. Even for The X-Files, this was a pretty dark thing.. the idea of a group conning people out of their organs is crazy and it's the craziness that works so well (most of the time) on this show. There was still some of Mulder's sarcasm, but the last two episodes have left me feeling high and dry in terms of the Mulder/Scully connection. Sure, they send jabs at each other, but in other episodes this season, even the stand-alone ones, you get the sense that these two care about each other and care what happens to one another.

    Much better than the last episode.
  • Unfairly Maligned

    I have to disagree with the Note for this episode that says it is completely devoid of paranormal activity. Did no one see the ghosts that mysteriously disappeared into thin air when they were discovered? And what about all the talk of Chinese ghost myths? Although not as overt as in most episodes, there is enough "X" stuff here.

    This was a well-written and well-directed episode. The shot of the guard's eye looking through a pinhole to see a man writhing as he is burned alive was brilliant. The surgical stitches on the victim during the autopsy were harrowing. The whole episode has a finely-tuned sense of dread, which was well done.

    The influence of this series is shown by yet another appearance of a young actress (Lucy Liu) in a bit part who would later become quite famous. It's fun to see these appearances (Jack Black, Tony Shaloub, Terry O'Quinn, J.T. Walsh, etc.)
  • Not exactly an X-file

    There's nothing paranormal about this episode, there are aliens in the background and no conspiracies to deal with, and while this plot could be that of a show like Law and Order or NYPD Blue, Hell Money is entertaining and tells a sad and desperate story of someone trying to save a loved one.

    I've probably said this before, but I really enjoyed the change in the Mulder and Scully dynamic after the events of One Breath/Paperclip. They grew closer with every episode.

    Also, this episode gives us a little to think about: The desperate struggle from someone who needs a new organ and the big demand they have making anyone do terrible things to get one and save someone's life.
  • Mulder and Scully investigate a series of murders in Chinatown and uncover a deadly game where participants play for their organs.

    This episode was nothing more than disappointing. I have read that this was ranked as one of the worst by fans, and for just cause. The show is based of off paranormal activity and the like, and this episode was completely void of that.

    The episode was half-decently written, the main storyline at least being a believeable one. It seem much more suited for a CSI style show, and is just simply too out of character to be a good episode.
  • The intensity and difference of the story make this episode to represent better half of third season's episodes.

    This is a moderately good episode. It might be one of the scariest episodes of the show. It's not a very great episode but it's realistic, at least when compared to usual episodes of X-Files, and that realism makes it scary. References to missing internal organs and scenes referring to removal of those parts almost made me sick. When the story doesn't surprise much it's still very intense. Well, I was somewhat surprised when that Chinese detective was involved with the lottery. After all I think that the intensity and difference of the story make this episode to represent better half of third season's episodes.
  • The one with the organs game

    This was another awesome episode featuring ‘Lucy Lui’, sure not a big part but still good and great to see her on The x-files.

    I loved the ghosts (It were right?) in the masks and the feel to this episode was fresh, original and just enjoyable.

    It begins with a sort of creepy teaser with two Chinese guys fighting, then some men in masks appear and they put one in an oven. When a guard comes in he finds him burning inside.

    Mulder and Scully go to investigate it and they meet a Chinese detective, they find a mark in the oven saying ‘Ghost’ and they find Hell Money, money that keeps away the spirits.

    We also see some weird game being plaid, the ones that lose have to give away their organs. Scully finds a body and the body doesn’t have a few organs, instead she finds a frog in it.

    There is also another guy playing, he looses and then they take away his eye. His daughter is very sick and he needs the money to be able to get fixed, or else she’ll die. After losing his eye he doesn’t want to do that anymore, but he isn’t allowed to stop anymore.

    When the detective enters his house, some masks are there waiting and those attack him and cut him but don’t kill him, meanwhile the other Chinese guy has to go back and when he looses again he is also gonna loose his life.

    When the detective is better, he goes to stop it and Mulder and Scully follow. Inside he throws away the chips and discovers that it’s a lie, all chips are the same. He saves the other guy and shoots one of the doctors who says he should have killed him.

    The father of the girl was saved on time and the girl is gonna be saved in the hospital, strangely the detective disappears out of the hospital. He wakes up in an oven that burns him alive.

    The episode was very good, Chinese and we learn about doing stupid and desperate things, it had a very interesting and moving story and the casting was excellent.

  • The premise is out of character, but the tone is most certainly X-Files.

    Jeffrey Vlaming wrote this interesting script that delves deep into the pits of human emotion. Just exactly how far will one go to save a family member? Just how far will one go to make money? These two questions are at the forefront of "Hell Money", an out-of-character entry from the third season of The X-Files.

    This review will not be a review so much as a discussion of the rampant disagreement fans have had regarding this episode. For a majority of X-Files fans, this one is near the bottom of the barrel. And while I can agree with some of the complaints regarding the episode, I vehemently disagree with a disagreeable opinion simply because the case is not "an X-File". Actually, based on Scully's definition in a past episode, the premise of this episode quite clearly fits the definition of an X-File (an unsolved case) -- it's just not a "supernatural" episode. But this is more of a digression.

    The reason I cannot stand this opinion is that it has nothing to do with the quality of the work. I have heard a relatively fewer number of complaints regarding the character of the episode. It is certainly very dark, somewhat morbid -- with an undeniable sense of urgency that makes the suspense of the story sustain itself quite nicely. Tucker Gates, the director of the episode, does a nice job creating this tone -- though his frequent glimpses of extremism and hyperbole seem somewhat distracting and inconsistent at times. The acting is superb -- guest B.D. Wong, guest James Hong, guest Diana Ha, and stars Anderson and Duchovny show some nice work here.

    I was also impressed with the fine detail given to the atmosphere/environment of the episode. The episode is given nice orange/rust-like hues to give off the sense of utter doom and hopelessness. This goes well with the final scene, where Dr. Wu (Diana Ha) says he gives his "victims" hope. In a visual and tonal sense, this episode is exceptional.

    However, the episode is somewhat drawn out and at times borders on the speed of "largo". The episode takes much too long to develop -- so the payoff is not nearly as effective as it could have been. At times, confusion outweighs atmospheric value, and this is especially true in the first 15 minutes of the episode. The episode feels like it is trying to get comfortable -- sort of like a cold start for a basketball team in a big game. However, with time, the episode settles down and develops more reasonably and effectively.

    Thus, while this is far from my favorite X-Files episode, this is also not nearly as bad as some viewers contend. In actuality, this is an intriguing and engrossing episode that certainly is worthy of The X-Files as a TV show. There is more to a show than premise.
  • Unjustly reviled gem

    "Hell Money" is not an X-File. This has been one of the major criticisms leveled at this third season episode by fans, who routinely voted this show on miscellaneous lists of "Worst X-Files". The charge is right: it is NOT an X-File.

    "Hell Money" is simply a crime drama set in an exotic locale, dealing with foreign (here: Chinese) myth and social issues, in this case the desparation of immigrants who come to America hoping for a better, more proseperous life, but finding those hopes crushed soon in poor living conditions and low-paid jobs. This is the story of a man who is willing to wager his body parts for the prospect of earning the multi million dollar jackpot in a bizarre lottery hosted by more well-off Chinese immigrants who make their living in the illegal organ trade. There are no paranormal events, no mutants or aliens involved, just very very creepy human behavior.

    The fans' verdict on "Hell Money", however, is off the mark. It's a great episode. A sad story, sensitively told by Jeffrey Vlaming's script, Tucker Gates directing with a flair for the exotic and the exciting in equal measure. Like "Irresistible" a year earlier, "Hell Money" proved that The X Files doesn't depend on the supernatural to deliver thrills. Every now and then, a more earthbound show can appear that is equally, if not more disturbing, simply because it's the human beings perpetrating those horrific crimes, not some monster. "Hell Money" is a fine example of that kind of X-File.
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