Bet to Basic (2006)
Reviewed by: STSH on 2006-04-26
Summary: They try hard
A low rent and pale imitation of the highly successful God Of Gamblers franchise. The major restriction here is the light-on-laughs idiotic script.

It is always a pleasure to see Jordan Chan and Yuen Wah on screen, no matter in what twaddle they appear. Jordan looks old and tired, and seriously looks as if he'd rather be somewhere else ...... anywhere else. He slouches through proceedings like he's just got out of bed. Despite this, there's still his wonderful deep voice, and even in this zombic state, he still has more screen charisma than many other HK actors I could name.

Like most HK movies about mahjong, BTB plays to an audience who know the game inside out. I always feel a bit lost with long scenes featuring sets of tiles presented for two or three seconds, which the Hongkies in the audience grasp without hesitation. I learned that winning combinations include Self-Made, Purity and Heaven, but it didn't really help in following the proceedings. There are several very long scenes of game play, which will be a drag if you don't know the rules.

Yuen Wah and the rest of the major actors really try hard. They go all-out to add fun and zest to the hopelessly lame script. The scene where Yuen and Eric Kot jive around in yellow and red afro wigs is an example. A really stupid idea animated by a couple of great old troopers.

And for those who still can't get over their abiding hatred of Eric Kot (c'mon, out up your hands, guys), you'll experience a frisson of shadenfreuder (go look it up) as he is knocked to the ground then has the bejesus kicked out of him. The normally manic Kot is quite subdued in BTB, only resorting to his trademark irritating screech in one short moment, and his performance is pretty good.

Samuel Pang is terrifically malevolent as Morpheus, and I was hoping to see more of his character on screen.

Honestly, I think giving this movie 1.5 stars out of 5 is a bit too high. I tilted it that way because of the great cast who, for the most part, did their best with what they were given.

What this movie desperately needed was Wong Jing. Love him or loathe him, Jing is the undisputed king of gambling movies. Just compare with the greatest gambling film ever made (God Of Gamblers Return), or even God Of Gamblers - The Early Stage (which also featured Jordan Chan). 'nuff said.
Reviewer Score: 3