Casino Raiders (1989)

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 1

Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 06/18/2007

Long-winded and careless "Casino Raiders" feels like it is the byproduct of two thirteen-year-olds collective imaginations. Wong Jing and Jimmy Heung stack this proverbial house of cards and then stand by looking on as it finally comes crashing down in the midsection when you realize you are never going to care about the fate of the leads (Alan Tam, Andy Lau). The last hour shows a flare for the visceral allowing the audience to go on autopilot alleviating them of mindfulness and responsibility.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 11/22/2006
Summary: Not awful.

Andy Lau Tak-Wah and Alan Tam Wing-Lun play gamblers turned security consultants who are brought to Las Vegas to help some casino operators protect themselves against some high-rolling Japanese gamblers. They bust the elaborate scam and set in motion a revenge melodrama that leads to a nasty outcome.

Master filmmaker Wong Jing directs, with "business" partner Jimmy Heung Wa-Sing, from a script he co-wrote with said partner. Casino Raiders is a dark film that features Jimmy Lung Fong as a deadly adversary to the two famous pop stars. Ida Chan Yuk-Lin and Rosamund Kwan Chi-Lam look good against the backdrop of the gambling underworld. It's not Wong's best gambling film, and it's not the worst one either.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/19/2003

Wong Jing's movies may be a lot of things -- at times they can be stupid, incoherent, infantile, or a number of other negative adjectives -- but they're usually not boring. This movie is. It's widely recognized as the beginnings of the modern gambling movie genre, which is still going to this day (at last count, Wong himself had had a part in about 30-40 of these types of movies). There are a couple of good gambling scenes (Wong's favorite to direct) but there's little else of interest in this film.

Andy Lau and Alan Tam play a gambling/con artist duo, supposedly the best in Asia (and, thinking about it, this would probably be true, since they seem to have the ultimate "poker faces," never changing expression throughout the movie). They get invited to a Las Vegas casino to help shut down a ring of Japanese Yakuza who are cheating and breaking the bank. It takes them about ten minutes to figure out the scam (something silly involving reflective watch faces) and everything seems cool. The pair then concentrate on getting laid. Eventually, Tam hooks up with a Japanese heiress who wants him to go straight. Though Lau wants to keep the pair active, Tam agrees and heads back to HK. Without Tam by his side, Lau eventually gets caught by the Japanese and has his hand crippled. In a plot device obviously lifted from A Better Tomorrow, Tam must decide whether to stay on the straight and narrow or help his friend get revenge.

On paper, this seems like a pretty good plot. However, much of the middle portion of the movie has nothing to do at all with gambling and really grinds the movie down. There aren't even the usual Wong Jing toilet jokes to keep things lively. The eventual gambling showdown at the finale is pretty good, but it's the old case of "too little, too late." This one's probably only for hardcore Andy Lau fans only, and even they might be disappointed since he doesn't run around shirtless or sing a bunch of ballads like most of his other movies.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 07/08/2002
Summary: Quite Good

What does Casino Raiders offer to the gambling genre in HK cinema? Well, not a lot actually. My only real reason for saying that though is because most people wouldn’t have seen this before God of Gamblers, or any other Wong Jing gambling escapee. Because to be honest, if you’ve seen any of those, then you’ve seen them all. However, to me, this is a lot better than your average, and the comedy standard and mix is very similar to God of Gamblers, and I would say that if you like that film, and don’t mind low budgeted 80’s action comedy (more serious than comedy though) films, then this is well worth the view. Saying that though, I think its 125 minute running time is a little excessive for what this is, and by the end you do feel the length.

Not a classic by any means, but still very good, and I would still recommend this film these days. The series continued in No Risk No Gain (also pretty good), but lost steam by the third film (confusingly called Casino Raiders 2 in English).


Reviewed by: danton
Date: 04/15/2002

This gambling movie was actually released before the seminal God of Gamblers, and in many ways in takes a quite different approach to the genre. It's closer in spirit to the gritty, violent gangster movies that were so popular in the late Eighties, and while we do have a big showdown at the gambling table (complete with a bit twist revealed in the final hand) finishing the movie, there's little gambling going on in the preceding 2 hrs.

The story is about 2 friends called Sam (Alan Tam) and Crab Chan (Andy Lau), who make their living with professional gambling. At the request of a friend, they travel to a US casino in Lake Tahoe to help put an end to a gambling scheme that is costing the casino loads of money. The trip proves fateful in many ways: By helping the casino, they make mortal enemies of some Japanese Yakuza gamblers. At the same time, Sam falls for rich HK socialite Idy Chan, and decides to become an honest citizen. Idy's father offers him a career in his company, and soon Sam is climbing the corporate ladder and enjoying marital bliss with rich girl Idy, while the somewhat more bluecollar Crab is stuck with big-eyed floozy Rosamund Kwan and with a failed gambling career after his hand is injured during an assassination attempt.

Of course the Yakuza guys won't stop until Sam and Crab are dead, and it's here that the film takes a turn towards heavy melodrama coupled with lots of gunplay. Several central characters meet an untimely, bloody end and Sam has no choice but to take on the Japanese in a final, decisive high-stakes gambling duel. He does so in classic fashion, with everything on the line, and the final match is indeed quite gripping with a surprising end.

The film suffers from the fact that Alan Tam is not a very charismatic actor, and one would have wished that Andy Lau had been given more screentime and Alan less. All in all, it's a rather average movie with some pretty dull stretches that is salvaged only by the pretty decent showdown at the end. Marginal recommendation.

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 12/08/2001
Summary: Enjoyable early foray into Gambling Movies

CASINO RAIDERS (1989) - Andy Lau, Alan Tam & Idy Chan are the main stars of this early Wong Jing movie about gambling. Another fine production from Wong Jing's evil genius, chock full of drama, action, romance, some unintentionally hilarious moments and some tense gambling scenes. Not as flashy or as GOG, but a good grim melodrama. Andy Lau is in good form, and Idy Chan & Rosamund Kwan make good of their roles. Alan Tam is a clueless twit as usual... why this man was ever considered one of HK's coolest men is well beyond me. Whilst Casino Raiders doesn't have the style, panache, soundtrack or Chow Yun Fat of God Of Gamblers, it's just as enjoyable a movie in many ways. Recommended. The DVD is pretty poor - weak picture transfer and terrible subtitles, but at least it's widescreen.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Yellow Hammer
Date: 05/10/2001
Summary: The gambling movie before God of Gamblers

Crab Chan (Andy Lau) and Sam Law (Alan Tam) are childhood friends who are outstanding gamblers. But while Crab went to prison for 3 years for gambling swindling, Sam went on to be the best gambler in all of Asia. Upon exiting prison, Crab is picked up by Bobo (Rosamund Kwan), who becomes his assistant/lover.

Sam and Crab are asked by his friend Lon (co-director Charles Heung) to come to Las Vegas to investigate possible fraud by international gamblers. While in Las Vegas, the pair meet a beautiful rich girl, Miss Tong Koyan (ex-CYF girlfriend Idy Chan), who is living up life in Las Vegas for a week, including paying $1,000 per night for escort service. Sam and Crab manage to detect the scam, which raised the ire of the Japanese Yakuza. At the same time, Sam and Tong become closer and closer. The combination of gambling, the Yakuza, and wealth lead to a interesting rest of the movie.

A bit of a spoiler, the very last line in the movie that Sam spews out probably could have been better subtitled to capture the emotion. It could have been interpreted as "I'm going to continue fooling her"....

This movie in many respects was the start to a slew of gambling movies, including God of Gamblers. Though God of Gamblers is credited with being the movie that started the gambling movie craze, in actuality Casino Raiders was out a few months before, with very good box office success.

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 04/21/2000
Summary: Muddled and bitter

The pacing of this film is, to say the least, choppy. The first half hour is slow, wordy and densely plotted. Then there's just a little action, then romance and buddie stuff, then a bit more action...
While this might sound well-balanced on paper, it's damn confusing to watch.
A sense of the story starts to emerge in the second hour, although the build-up to the inevitable (and a little disappointing) gambling play-off still follows an uneasy course.
On the upside, the male-bonding affection between Sam and Crab is convincing and well-played across the whole film.
The ending comes under the heading of clever but bitter. One of the characters, in avenging a death, betrays the trust of another who is close. It's a horrid end to a mixed-up film.

Overall, this is a moderately good gambling film, and a lot less nasty than its ridiculously violent sequel.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/21/1999

Gambling scams and power struggles in the glamorous mafia casinos ofMacao set this story in motion.

[Reviewed by Tai Seng Catalog]