Conman in Tokyo
Director: Ching Siu-Tung (credited as Tony Ching)
Writer: Wong Jing
Producer: Wong Jing
Stars: Louis Koo, Nick Cheung, Christy Chung, Athena Chu, Yasuaki Kurata, Leung Kar Yan, Wong Ting, Ben Lam
You remember that really cool card-throwing gambler from City Hunter? Wouldn't it be keen to see a whole movie about him? Okay, maybe not. But this is essentially what we have here, in another example of Wong Jing "recycling."
The plot has gambler Jersy (Cheung) winning the title of Hong Kong's best gambler from Leung Kar Yan. While celebrating, an old-timer (Wong Ting) tells Jersy about a legendary gambler named Cool (Koo), who disappeared three years ago. Jersy becomes obsessed with finding Cool, but puts that aside to take his girlfriend (Chung) to Japan. While there, they hop into a Chinese restaurant and the cook just happens to be Cool (Jersy knows it's Cool because Cool has a certain talent for throwing cards). Jersy and Cool eventually form a partnership to get revenge on the man who crippled Cool's girlfirend (Chu) and drove him from gambling.
Like most Wong Jing-affiliated films, this one has its ups and downs. Unfortunately, the downs outweigh the ups here. Probably the biggest detriment to the movie is Nick Cheung. Supposedly, this guy is the next Stephen Chow, but I really saw little of Chow's comedic talent -- or, more importantly, Chow's charisma. Chueng certainly tries hard; he uses all the elements of moy len tau (nonsense comedy) such as rapid-fire Cantonese and pop-culture references (which, in this case, turn out to be jokes about dot coms and HK expatriates like Chow Yun-Fat). But most times he just comes off as a spaz, kind of like a Hong Kong version of Andy Dick.
Conman in Tokyo could have also used some serious editing. The movie runs almost two hours (very long for a HK movie), and there are a lot of scenes which could have been trimmed or cut completely. Probably the biggest offender is a long dream sequence, which makes no sense and adds nothing to the movie (supposedly this is just actually an advertisement for a web site). Conman in Tokyo also depends on the really lame "evil twin" plot device, which has been stomped into the ground.
Still, there is some good stuff in this movie. Conman in Tokyo looks great; obviously, a large (by HK standards) amount of money was spent and it shows. Not only is there a large amount of CGI used in the movie (with varying results), but the last part of the film takes place on an actual aircraft carrier, complete with an exploding plane. The film is also shot and edited well. You can say what you want about Wong Jing productions, but there is always a nice professional look to them.
In other areas, Louis Koo puts in a good performance, giving some much-needed weight to this movie. There is some nice eye candy in the form of Christy Chung and Athena Chu. And there are several good action sequences. Ching Siu-Tung must be a genius, because he makes even Nick Cheung look like a kung-fu badass. It's too bad he couldn't do anything with the rest of this movie.
A review of the VCD for this movie can be found here
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This DVD is available for purchase at www.hkflix.com