God of Gamblers


Director: Wong Jing

Writer: Wong Jing

Stars: Chow Yun-Fat, Andy Lau, Joey Wong

Ko Chun (Chow), known as the "God of Gamblers" for his formidable talents inside casinos, is set up for a hit after he humiliates a crime boss. The hit gets botched and Chun escapes, but not before he gets hit on the head and (in the grand tradition of great sitcoms) loses his memory, becoming a Rain Man-like idiot savant who acts like a kid but is still skilled at gambling. A young ruffian (Lau), mostly to make his girlfriend (Joey Wong) happy, takes Chun in and helps him, then tries to exploit him as some of the "God's" talent becomes apparent. Things start to get bad for the trio when the Triads who tried to kill Chun return to finish the job.

One of the most popular HK films of all time, God of Gamblers is a raucous blend of action, comedy and drama. The gambling scenes in the movie are fabulous. If you think that sounds funny, well, it does... but after you see Ko Chun literally battling for tiles in a game, you'll never look at gambling scenes the same way again. The action segments (as could be expected from Wong Jing) are over the top and quite good, especially the one in a parking garage, where Chow picks up two pistols John Woo-style and blasts the hell out of his attackers.

But what really cements the film is Chow Yun-Fat. Many people call this his best performance, and in fact, he was nominated for a Hong Kong Film Award for his acting in this movie (he did end up winning the award, but for a different film, All About Ah-Long). I wouldn't go quite that far (The Killer still holds a special place in my heart, but this movie actually beat it at the local box office), but Chow is quite endearing in this movie, as he meticulously eats chocolate or screams with glee as he wins -- it doesn't hurt that we also get to see him as a major badass as well.

God of Gamblers comes highly recommended. There's a little something for everyone in it, if you can get past the horrible subtitles present in most video versions.

RATING: 8.75

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