Here is one of the most popular examples of Hong Kong cinema in the past decade. God of Gamblers is one of the earliest directorial efforts by Wong Jing, currently the most controversial figure in HK movie making. Starring Chow Yun-Fat as the gambler who never loses, the film is a showcase of this actors huge talent. The supporting cast is also fantastic. Andy Lau Tak-Wah gives a great performance as the young hustler called Knife, who is always trying to make the big score. Joey Wong Cho-Yin plays the role of Andy's significant other, Jane, and she is as cute as ever. Cheung Man plays the international gambler's girlfriend. This performer is an incredible beauty.
Reviewer Score: 9
God of Gamblers poster
The film begins in San Francisco, moves quickly to Tokyo, and then home to Hong Kong in order to establish the international reputation of Ko Chun, the so-called God of Gamblers. All around nice guy and hero, Ko helps a friend defeat a cheating card player and wins a huge sum. Meanwhile, Knife and his pals have laid a trap to get revenge against a Singh "puffter", possibly their landlord. Ko, in his efforts to elude the henchmen trying to get the winnings back, stumbles into the trap. In the fall, he strikes his head which causes amnesia.
Ko has no recollection of his background, but soon Knife and Jane discover his super ability with gambling. Chow lets his hair down as the childlike Chocolate, named so by Jane for his love of a certain edible sweet. It is refreshing to see Chow do something different from the cool calculating debonair characters he usually portrays. His performance in this film is riveting.
My favorite scene involves Jane and her dinner date with her parents. Seeking approval from them for her beloved Knife, he is late for some reason and she must substitute the volatile and immature Chocolate. Jane is a nervous wreck and Chocolate tries very hard to impress the doubting, disapproving parents. The poor guy can't pull it off and ends up in fisticuffs with the father. It is one of the funniest scenes I've seen in sometime.
Cast in a supporting role, the beautiful Cheung Man appears in God of Gamblers as the lover of Ko Chun. In the opening sequences she is shown at Ko's side or in the background as he gambles. They have one scene in the back seat of a limo where they share a piece of chocolate, a laugh, and a cozy kiss. Ko also has a guy friday, you know, a right-hand man, confidant, chauffeur, etc. Later, after Ko's injury and disappearance, the assistant comes on to Cheung, insisting he would be a better man for her. She, of course, resists his advance's and attempted rape. In the struggle, she is thrown out of a 2nd floor window and killed. In his rage the berserk assistant runs outside and has his way with the dead woman.
While many articles about God of Gamblers have appeared in film journals since it first premiered, not one of them, to my knowledge, ever mentioned necrophilia. How about that! Wong Jing has been criticized for his treatment of women in his films and I'm sure this scene has helped to foster that opinion.
Originally published in Asian Trash Cinema #12
VHS review copy supplied by Video Search of Miami.
Copyright 1996 © J. Crawford