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一個爛賭的傳說 (2001)
A Gambler's Story

Reviewed by: beyond asiaphilia
Date: 06/17/2009
Summary: an overlooked gem

I’m not sure why this movie is so obscure—it’s a great little flick, with Marco Mak’s inventive direction and editing, an interesting and well-paced story, and a funny, subtle performance by Francis Ng as yet another hapless loser (see Juliet In Love) trying to escape the mire of his misguided existence. Apparently some folks were expecting the flashy escapism of God of Gamblers and its various spin-offs, but A Gambler’s Story is pretty different from those fluffy little numbers. This one’s a black comedy about a compulsive gambler (Ng) who futilely tries to turn his life around, only to be lured back to the card table and the horse track for one last bet. Francis is ably supported by the tough-and-tender Suki Kwan as an equally hard-luck bar hostess who becomes his love interest. There are also brief and amusing appearances by Lam Suet and Sam Lee (with black hair). A Gambler’s Story has a couple weirdly offensive moments that ridicule fat chicks and Indians, but for the most part it’s an intelligent and entertaining departure from standard Hong Kong actioners. In some ways it’s reminiscent of Johnnie To’s Too Many Ways To Be Number One, with its sad-sack main character, unconventional camerawork, black humor, and unexpected plot twists. I’ve recently spotted this one on sale at Chinatown dvd stores—it’s definitely worth picking up and checking out if you run across it.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Chinoco
Date: 03/05/2006
Summary: It's not a good bet.

Ok, they went too far with this one! This movie was not what I was expecting. I didn't exactly expect the glamour of "God of Gamblers", but I didn't think it would turn out as dark and depressing as it did.

I wanted to see the dark side of gambling, triads, action and drama. Instead I got a film with incurable diseases, male rape, and a bleak ending. Yes, all that DOES happen in this film. I was actually surprised at how relatively little gambling is in this movie.

Fans of Sam Lee expecting a good laugh- forget it! He plays a kid with so many diseases; he could be on the cover of a medical journal. Every time something good happens to one of the characters in the movie, just wait a minute or two and see what happens next.

This film also has one of the cheesiest scenes ever in HK cinema. Francis Ng, Suki Kwan, and the wheel-chair bound Sam Lee all play like NBA legends in a park in darkness on a basket with no net. Not one of them even hits a rim, never mind misses a shot!

The only thing redeeming about this film was the performance of Francis Ng. He did an outstanding job, and I was really hoping good things would happen to his character. It just wasn't enough to save this film for me however.

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 11/23/2005
Summary: Pleasant but not compelling

I confess at the outset to being disappointed, having first read the other reviews. I am a big fan of the glitzy showoff HK gambling movies (think the great God Of Gamblers Return), and was certainly not expecting this sort of movie.

It was a pleasing change to see the often-villainous Francis Ng play a sympathetic role. His character is likeable and vulnerable. He narrates for nearly the entire film, so you always know what's going on, especially in his head. The relationship with Fragrance is well-done. And the cinematography is pleasing to the eye.

But I just simply got bored by the half-way mark. I found Francis Ng's never-ending narration (something like in Alfie) overdone, and think the movie would have benefited from giving us longer breaks between narrative, if only to let the story flow better and allow things to develop, rather than to explain everything in such minor detail.

Overall, quite okay, but don't rush to rent it, and get into a mellow mood first.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 04/15/2002
Summary: Okay

Well, it's not what most people would expect, I 'll say that. Not to say it's bad or anything, because it's quite good. The first review explains the rest the best I think.

Rating: 3/5

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 03/12/2002
Summary: Ummm........

the version i saw this had very low volumne so maybe i didn't like it as much as the reviewer below me.

If your expecting a GOD OF GAMBLERS style movie, don't look this way. This is a well made drama about a gambler with no luck. And when he's lucky, he's really unlucky at the end, make sense??

Everyone plays there roles to perfection. Watch for Sam Lee in his mini role. He is always a stand out.

I don't really know what to say about this movie, but i think it's worth looking into.


Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 11/24/2001
Summary: A great story

A GAMBLER'S STORY - The latest film from HK's ace editor Marco Mak shows that he has a lot to offer as a director. Having served his apprenticeship as editor to many of the greatest movies ever to come out of Hong Kong (check the guy's filmography!), it's no surprise that the movie has a very clever, interesting visual style. Definitely part of the post Wong Kar-Wai new wave of HK movies, this is a movie that sits well next to Wilson Yip, Dante Lam or Patrick Leung's better films. Francis Ng and Shooky Kwan play compulsive gamblers who both seem cursed with bad luck, and are brought together by a serious of events and a charismatic loan shark. Great characters and performances from both, and an intelligent script provide us with a good set of emotional experiences.

There's some brilliant dark humour, and some quite harrowing bits too. Events and characters range from the absurd to the very realistic, in a way that works very well. Not that much gambling actually happens, and what you get is a far cry from the stylised scenes of GOD OF GAMBLERS, but it does a very good job of conveying the 'rollercoaster' excitement that inspires these gamblers (the actual intercutting of footage from a rollercoaster is not terribly subtle, admittedly!). I don't know what it is about gambling movies, but AGS also contains some seemingly very racist moments. The ending of the movie is a little bit disappointing, though I might have taken it better if I hadn't had to spend 20 minutes trying different players and eventually virtually scrubbing the disc clean to watch it

The closest film that I'd use as comparison to A GAMBLER'S STORY is Yip's JULIET IN LOVE, though it's not a very close comparison. I enjoyed this film tremendously, and strongly recommend it to all comers. Marco Mak definitely shows a lot of promise as a director - lets hope he doesn't get collared for the next big budget action flop though.

Reviewer Score: 8