TRASH CINEMA RECOMMENDED MOVIE
God of Gamblers Return may not have a whole lot to do with gambling, but in spirit, it is a worthy sequel to the original God of Gamblers.
Ko Chun (Chow Yun Fat), the God of Gamblers, has been living in seclusion in France with his wife for the last four years. The evil Chau Siu Chue (Wu Hsing-Guo) has been trying to arrange a game with Ko Chun so that he can challenge him for the title, but Ko Chun has so far ignored him. After a provocation so gruesomely extreme that I actually laughed out loud, Ko Chun changes his mind. But Ko Chun has to wait to even the score with Chau Siu Chue because his wife Yau (Sharla Cheung) made him promise not to gamble for a full year.
Towards the end of the year-long waiting period, Ko Chun sets off in the general direction of Chau Siu Chue’s digs in Taiwan, with a stop in Hong Kong. In a silly coincidence, he meets and becomes friends with Hoi On (Blacky Ko), another bigtime gambler, who is a rival of Chau Siu Chue. Hoi On’s little boy Yuen (Tze Miu) isn’t so impressed with Ko Chun, but through a series of plot mechanics I won’t get into, Ko Chun ends up taking Yuen to his sister Tong (Chingmy Yau) in Taiwan, with Captain Kok (Elvis Tsui), Little Trumpet (Tony Leung), and Little Guitar (Ng Sin-Lin) along for the ride.
I’m sure you’re not surprised that there’s a big game in the end, where everything is resolved, and that there’s cheating involved.
When you’re talking about Wong Jing gambling movies, the wrong question to ask is if it’s any good. Wong Jing’s movies are all over the map in terms of tone, characters, and traditional yardsticks of quality in general. The more appropriate question is, “Is it entertaining?”
When you’re talking about God of Gamblers Return, I’d have to say yes.
After a brief prologue to explain what our heroes have been up to since the last installment in the series, Wong Jing dives right into a bullet ballet setpiece right out of A Better Tomorrow. Then, like the original God of Gamblers, we head into a long second act characterized by silly Cantonese humor. The difference is that, this time around, there is action sprinkled all the way through the second act.
I’ve got to mention that Chingmy Yau burns up the screen in a sequence where she kickboxes her way into a casino and indulges in a game of kung fu blackjack.
Wong Jing even finds time for a little romance with a subplot about Little Guitar (the enchanting Ng Sin-Lin), who has a crush on the God of Gamblers, who she has never met (although she treasures a picture of him taken from the back).
In the third act, we’re back into deadly serious territory, along with the glamorization of gambling. Wong Jing does a good job of drawing out the suspense during the big game, and provides a satisfying comeuppance for the villains.
What more do you want? I dunno, maybe a narrative that doesn’t seem like the writer is making it up as he goes along. Humor that springs from character instead of slapstick and vulgarity, maybe? But that’s probably asking too much of Wong Jing.
We should probably be satisfied that God of Gamblers has some nifty action setpieces, charismatic performances from Chow Yun Fat and Chingmy Yau, and some decent suspense and leave it at that.
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