You are currently displaying Big5
(1989)
God of Gamblers


Reviewed by: Masterofoneinchpunch
Date: 03/03/2016
Summary: "To beat you puffier." -- The greatest line in the film.

The most successful director from the Shaw Brothers after the Shaw Brothers era was Wong Jing. Where others like Chor Yuen and Chang Cheh creatively and commercially were at their apex and are still mostly known for their Shaw Brothers work, Wong Jing would become much more popular after the studio even though he had hits there such as Prince Charming (1984). He started off with TVB and then wrote and directed for the famous studio with films like Winner Takes All where his pastiche ridden, gambling obsession and commercialist style was already evident. Wong has stated that the Norman Jewison gambling film The Cincinnati Kid (1965) was one of his favorites and that is obvious is so many of his movies. Though Wong’s Casino Raiders earlier in 1989 can be stated to be the first film in the new gambling film craze, it was his next film God of Gamblers* which would become a massive hit and lead to parodies, sequels, official sequels to the parody and rip-offs (who is ripping off who gets a little confusing pretty quickly).

This was an immensely popular film with the Hong Kong public. It was the second highest grossing HK film in the 1980s, which at-the-time would make it the second-highest grossing film of HK all-time second only to The Eighth Happiness, but one that also stars Chow Yun-fat showing how popular he was at the time.** Critics and writers such as Paul Fonoroff or John Charles (with exceptions like David Bordwell) were not as kind to this as the public, but that certainly has not hurt its influence. While I feel the film is a mixed-bag of plot contrivances, rushed filmmaking, an overuse of “homages” and ultimately could have been a lot better, I have seen it several times and I still enjoy it.

We are introduced to globetrotter and unstoppable gambler with panache and a chocolate addiction Ko Chun (Chow Yun-fat) who dominates first in San Francisco and then in Tokyo Japan. There he beats Mr. Wang in two games of mahjong and dice (Chun said if he lost once he would lose it all) where the dice scene was modeled after similar betting scenes in the Shintarô Katsu Zatoichi films with yakuza tattooed Miss Chi (Nishiwaki Michiko) and even an ear twitch for another obvious reference. Wang tells of a Singaporean gangster Chan Kam Shing who only bets in international waters who was responsible for his dad killing himself though Chan cheated. This will, of course, will set-up the finale of the film. While that is obvious, how it comes to that finale is not except for all of you who have seen the movie or read about it. For those who had not seen the trailer before watching this it must have been like seeing From Dusk Till Dawn without knowing there was going to be vampires (damn you trailer.)

Meanwhile, Knife (Andy Lau) is a mediocre (Morsov!) gambler who carries with him a picture of the God of Gamblers and hangs around with Crawl (perennial friend Ronald Wong Ban) and his sometimes suffering but loyal girlfriend with good fashion sense Jane (Joey Wong). His first scenes end up with him being tossed out of a second story window in what is a throw away stunt, but ends up looking pretty impressive to me (while Andy Lau did not do this stunt, he does several stunts in the film). He’s just not a good gambler. Will his luck change?

His luck changes when he accidently injures the wrong man when he sets up a practical joke (a really stupid one) to injure an annoying neighbor. This just happens to be the God of Gamblers, however, no one knows it yet because of a severe bump which renders Ko Chun with amnesia and the mental age of a young kid. Yet he retains his gambling abilities and chocolate addiction. The end up calling him Chocolate (which reminds me of the 2008 Thai film which I am sure got its name from this.) He becomes his Raymond Babbitt to his Charlie Babbitt as the film takes a Rain Man angle. But first he has to find his hidden talents and once he does we know what he will want to do with them. But how will this lead to an eventual showdown with Chan Kam Shing?

Wong Jing’s films are often pastiche. This is no exception with references from Raiders of the Lost Ark borrowing the gun versus knife scene, multiple John Woo film references (which also means the Alain Delon hair), The Untouchables (which was an homage to Battleship Potemkin) with the famous baby carriage, a butterfly knife scene that Terence Hill did with a gun (including slapping) earlier in My Name is Nobody (and Trinity), and other ones I have mentioned earlier. Wait was there a Weekend at Bernies reference (grab head and shake yes)? Wong is a little like Roger Corman mixed with Quentin Tarantino. He fits perfectly in studio system, usually makes money, is not ashamed to reuse scenes from other films over and over again and is constantly working to the chagrin of his critics.

There are certainly a few negatives in this film. The biggest are the use of the scenes with the Indian which were xenophobic and came off more mean than anything else. Also, the music gets a little on my nerves with the oft-repeated muzak version of Burt Bacharach’s “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” and a so-so soundtrack. I am not sure how well the supernatural element in one scene to his ability works in this movie as you later think: “Of course he can always win, he can change a card (or maybe even a tile).” That aspect takes a little out of the thrill of chance in a gambling film though it evens things up if someone else is cheating. Much of the plot is pretty sporadic and scattershot without much cohesion and characters and plot angles coming and going. One might be hoping that an amnesia victim from a head hit will not result in a later scene with another head hit, but unfortunately that is there as well. But none of these problems are out of the ordinary for a Wong Jing movie.

But ultimately I enjoyed this. Chow Yun-fat’s performance certainly helps and it would be a lesser film without him. He was nominated for Hong Kong Film Award Best Actor but lost to himself for his performance in All About Ah-long. He was not upset by this. But I enjoyed the supporting characters as well with Andy Lau giving a performance you would expect modeling somewhat after Tom Cruise. There are lots of film references or homages. Plus the finale and the gambling scenes are done quite well though it is directly inspired by The Cincinnati Kid (I just rewatched this and some of the fast paced editing, juxtaposition of images, zooming on individuals and cards is exactly the same.)

The Mei Ah R0 NTSC I watched is an OK copy. There are original Mandarin and Cantonese audios and two additional Cantonese with Dolby Digital Surround and DTS Surround. There are Simplified and Traditional Chinese subtitle as well as English. The English subtitles use British slang such as punter and does have its share of spelling mistakes and does not always follow the English correctly when it is spoken. Extras are a trailer, an interview of the director Wong Jing (6.15m w/ removable subs including English and Chinese Traditional and Simplified) which I recommend and data bank (you can usually skip these texts) with cast and crew and synopsis in English and Chinese.

* The title came from producer Jimmy Heung from a book he read. The title character was a ghost. Wong Jing in an interview stated he thought the book was poorly written.

** Given inflation, one could make a bet that A Better Tomorrow sold more tickets in 1986. But when you look at top grossing titles of the 1980s it is dominated by Chow Yun-fat and Jackie Chan. It seems surprisingly to me years later that The Eighth Happiness was so popular when it came out. It is a decent comedy, but not one that I either associate much with the director Johnnie To, whose later films are among my favorites, nor one of the great HK comedies of the 1980s.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011


Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 10/30/2010


Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: Anticlimacus
Date: 07/06/2007
Summary: A Retarded Chow Yun Fat Is NOT Entertaining

I am a massive fan of East Asian cinema, having watched over 500 such films as of this review. Having heard of God of Gamblers and reading the online reviews, I was expecting an enjoyable film. In addition, I was excited to see Chow Yun Fat and Andy Lau play off of each other.

After the opening sequence the viewer will recognize that this film explores wildly unrealistic outcomes for the benefit of entertainment value – and it works for about 20 minutes. At that point this viewer was thoroughly hooked.

Afterwards, my enjoyment was severely crippled when Chow's character loses his memory and starts acting like a brainless halfwit. Seriously, he acts like a mentally retarded 5-year-old who likes chocolate. Now don't misunderstand me – I love chocolate too, but to see Chow Yun Fat munching on cocoa bars while acting the imbecile does not qualify as cinematic entertainment. Five minutes after this plot development was introduced, I was praying that Chow would snap out of it very quickly.

I apparently should have known better. This stupid plot line drags on for 75 friggin' minutes and single-handedly destroys the entire film. It should not be surprising that the screenplay was written by Jing Wong, who gave us the utterly overrated piece of crap-infested garbage known as Kung Fu Mahjong (2005) and other subpar efforts like Moving Targets (2004), My Schoolmate the Barbarian (2001), The Duel (2000), Naked Killer (1992), as well as other superlative pieces of trash like Naked Weapon (2002) and Her Name Is Cat (1998). His only good script was Casino Raiders (1989), but then again, even a blind mouse can find food sometimes.

The fact is simply that Jing couldn't come up with good material, so he made Chow Yun Fat a certifiable lunatic who does lots of stupid things that have no comedic value whatsoever. It's much easier than coming up with a clever screenplay.

I'm truly perplexed at the raving reviews of God of Gamblers here. Does everyone really enjoy seeing Chow Yun Fat act like an annoying retard for 75 minutes? I simply cannot understand this.

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 10/26/2005
Summary: Wong Jing breaks his mold...or at least dents it.

“God of Gamblers is a stylistic hodge-podge with a few astonishingly excellent elements and a bravura ending that lands it solidly in the “recommended” column. Wong Jing shows a surprising amount of restraint (for him) at some points and goes over the deep end in others—but also shows that he is an most accomplished craftsman with capabilities much greater than he often cares to show.

As Ko Chun Chow Yun Fat is so cool that he makes James Bond look like a screaming hysteric. Chow’s appearance in the first part of the movie was a satirical comment on his characters in other films, even though that might not have been Wong’s intention. His hair could not have been more slicked back—the hair gel line in the production budget must have been quite a number. Chun’s relaxed grin never left his face even while gambling for the highest stakes and is concentration never wavered. The only indication that he was thinking about the game at all was when he would cock an eyebrow or touch his jade ring. And he did everything but file his nails while Mr. Dragon beat up thugs on the train. He matched the beautiful and alarmingly tattooed—a most memorable image-- Michiko Nishiwaki move for move while throwing dice.

Wong occasionally references other movies—and seems to do so with no concern for plot, theme or character. The most obvious example is toward the end of the gunfight that begins in a deserted car park when a young mother loses control of her baby carriage and it bumps down the moving steps of an escalator. This is, of course, one of the most iconic images in all film and has been since 1925 when Sergei Eisenstein used it in “Battleship Potemkin”. Directors repeat it at their peril—most memorably of recent vintage was Brian De Palma in “The Untouchables”—since it becomes an image that many will recognize and comment upon. Comparing oneself to the Russian silent film master might be a sign of hubris. And if there was ever a hubristic filmmaker, it is Wong Jing. During the same sequence he also quotes from “Carlito’s Way”, another De Palma film, when Dragon lies on the moving escalator and fires at the villains standing above him on the stairs. The baby carriage image only works if it is one of the centers of the action and also if it shows either the complete bestiality of the bad guys or the nobility of the good guys. Here it doesn’t really do either—thrown into the mix.

On the other hand there are scenes in “God of Gamblers” that are as competent and, in their own way, thrilling, as anything ever put on film. The meeting between the villainous Yee (Jimmy Lung Fong) and Ko Chun in the hospital after Chun recovers his memory is one of them. There is a close up of the two of them which lasts almost three minutes—2 minutes and 57 seconds on the DVD I watched—with no cuts. This is an incredibly long time for a camera to not look away from anything but Wong is doing much more here than showing off. This scene brings begins the last act of the movie. It ties up everything that has happened before and makes sure that the audience knows where each character stands—who is the good guy, who is the bad guy, who can remember what. It perfectly sets the scene for the climatic action to come. Wong shows a tremendous amount of trust in his actors—no matter how much coverage he may have shot—in this one shot. Fong and Chow repay that trust beautifully.

There are plenty of other sequences, however, that should have been edited with a much heavier hand. The transition sequence with the four new friends—Chun, Knife, Crawl and Jane—bouncing around the city to the treacly strains of “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” was much too long—a couple of short scenes would have been adequate and more importantly, tolerable, especially if it didn’t include music cribbed from one of the most well known scenes from one of the most popular movies ever produced in Hollywood. Chun’s fall through the bobby-trapped fence was especially badly done—the fence began to collapse into the ravine before Chun began to lean on it. Chow Yun Fat almost had to jump to keep up with the falling prop. And Knife’s assault on the concussed and helpless Chun was a real low point—Paris Hilton could have delivered more convincing punches and kicks.

Andy Lau did as well as anyone could in the thankless role of Knife. Knife was bad, but not that bad. He was tough, but not really that tough. From the evidence in the movie the character was probably in his mid-20s. It was impossible to feel empathy with him, even during the obligatory scene when is angry with Chun and abandons him in a busy street, only to run back to help him when he rediscovers his humanity while watching a mother brutalize her young son. Lau is one of the irreplaceable actors in Hong Kong cinema over the past 20 years—very talented, able to inhabit many different roles and sell them to the audience. But making us care about Knife was beyond even him.

Chow, of course, was perfect as the God of Gamblers and did a decent job as the brain damaged Ko Chun. During the gunfight in the garage he was very convincing as a fearful and horrified innocent who simply wanted to hide from the violence that was suddenly blazing around him. This made his transition, the one we had been waiting for, all the more forceful and impressive. After being hit on the head yet again the cowering, sniveling Ko Chun was suddenly the second coming of Mark Gor, righteously dealing death from the 9 MM pistols held in each hand. As is generally the case there was an almost inexhaustible supply of minor villains to be dispatched and a limitless amount of ammunition with which to send them to the next world.

The gorgeous Joey Wong was mainly decorative and was variously costumed in torn jeans—really torn jeans—corset like tops and very short skirts. Dramatically she was the conscience for Knife and his even more ineffectual underling Crawl and, with the aged Granny, served as the token non-criminals in the story.

The ending of the movie, while not surprising, was very well done with plenty of suspense as to exactly how the God of Gamblers was going to reassert himself. The shots of the cards sliding across the green baize, the extreme close ups of Chun’s winning hand and the perfectly executed set-up of the traitorous Yee and the disgusting Mr. Chang could not have been done much better. It brought the story full circle and put everything to rights.

Recommended.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 08/30/2005
Summary: Maybe I was tainted by the poor DVD....

Chow Yun-Fat stars as Ko Chun, a man widely referred to as the "God of Gamblers." He not only dominates games of skill, but games of chance always seem to go his way as well. When he is challenged, he attracts throngs of people to watch him annihilate his opponent at any game chosen. As the movie opens, Ko is challenged by a Wong, a business man who wants to see just how lucky the God of Gamblers is. After Ko crushes him in both dice and Mah-Jongg, the challenger concedes. Later that night at dinner, Wong proposes a business proposition to Ko Chun: ruin a group of dirty gamblers, led by a man named Chan, who financially ruined his father. Ko Chun accepts, and works his way up through the group until he is finally about to meet the leader. Unfortunately, before the big showdown, Ko falls into a trap set by some local Hong Kong teens. He falls down a hill, smashes his head, loses all memory of who he is, and mentally reverts to being a 8 or 9 year old. Fortunately, he is found by the same teens, who nurse him back to health but are unsure what to do with him; that is until they find his knack for gambling. Their leader Knife (Andy Lau) comes up with hair-brained schemes to make some quick money, but nothing really seems to work out. After trying to ditch him, Knife realizes that he has grown attached to Ko. By this point, everyone is looking for Ko, and he is slowly coming back to his senses. His old bodygaurd has tried to pin Ko's girlfriend's murder on him, and the police are closing in. Predictably, Ko eludes the cops, regains his former mental state and once again wreaks havoc on the gambling world.

Chow Yun-Fat once again provides a quality acting turn, as does Andy Lau and his girlfriend, played by Joey Wong. Unfortunately, after starting with a bang, the story really loses steam and there is not enough of Chow being his suave self to keep the interest going. The story also tends to spin a little out of control and wraps up much too quickly, leaving you wondering what's going to happen to most of the characters.
4/10

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 07/31/2005

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.
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

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Arshadnm6
Date: 04/13/2005
Summary: The first of it's kind, ultra gambling movie with an impecable storyline.......

A Wong Jing spectacle produced in the dawn of the eighties that started its own genre of movies. Chow Yun Fat, in one of best roles ever, as the legendary Gambler Ko Chun, who’s given the title of ‘God of Gamblers’ due to his amazing ability to beat any odds in gambling. He uses all types of methods such as counting cards, hearing the sound of dice when they’re being tossed about and even has psychological control over his foes which keeps him a level above the rest. When Ko Chun is on the table, there is no winning against him. His supernatural talent as an internationally renowned cardsharp, win the respect and admiration of his peers. Chun plays with a full deck and an ace up his sleeve, and his kung fu on the tables is heavenly.

Although despite his wealthy lifestyle as a triad kingpin, he unfortunately has a tragic accident leaving him with a case of short-term amnesia, no-thanks to a childish prank set-up by ‘Andy Lau’. Reduced to a childish-like state, obsessed with chocolate which acts like a pacifier, Ko Chun’s only hope of regaining his memories falls into the same person whom put him in this condition in the first place, the poor accuse for a hustler ‘Knife’ (played by Andy Lau). This is the point things go from bad to worse, Knife inadvertently discovers Ko Chun’s card-handling-ability and unwittingly involves him in his overambitious hustling schemes. This only seems to get them into more trouble, since Ko Chun spends most of the time using his new found fortune, buying expensive chocolate or simply giving it away, much to the infuriation of Knife. Meanwhile, ‘Dragon’, the former bodyguard of Ko Chun, is looking everywhere for him, eventually finding him at a cheap hotel in the middle of a Triad shoot-out, which results in Ko Chun getting knocked down by a car. Later he regains his memory just in queue for his final showdown with old and new enemies, in a high stakes game against another one of Ko Chun’s Arch Nemesis.

This was the one movie that you could say spawned all the rest of them, including the renowned ‘Conman’ series (also directed by Wong Jing) and other outcasts like ‘Casino Tycoon I and II’, ‘The Tricky Master’, ‘My Name is Nobody’, ‘Fate Fighter’ and many more. Although other HK Directors helped seed a 1990’s subgenre culture of gambling theme with comedy, it wasn’t until 1994 when Chow Yun Fat made a reappearance to reclaim his title, in ‘God of Gamblers: Returns’. Chow’s performance is a combination of John Woo style hard man and at the same time a protégée of ‘Nick Cheung’ with a hint of comedy and suspense. This was the first film, and the best of its kind, that dealt out as much controlled humour as hard-edged violence. Joey Yung (as Knife’s Girlfriend) also stars in this picture, but doesn’t get too much of a role, and seems to vanish out of the storyline in last 25 minutes, before making a reappearance 2 minutes before the end.

Overall the storyline is strong, yet this is a typical Wong Jing Movie, with the uncomfortable scene where one of Chow Yun Fat’s bodyguards insanely rapes Chow Yun Fat’s Wife after she falls to her grisly death, over the balcony of a 2 storey high building. Wong Jing should really try to avoid these types of scenes, since they are unnecessary and usually give the movie a bad sort of feel. Chow Yun Fat does an impeccable performance alongside Andy Lau, and both get a turn to take a control over the movie, which is pleasing.

Overall Rating: 8.0/10

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 02/27/2005

Simply one of the most overrated HK movies EVER. Below average.

[4/10]

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: SteelwireMantis
Date: 03/31/2004
Summary: One of Wong Jing's better films

Wong Jing reunites Chow Yun-Fat and Andy Lau in a kind of cultish Hong Kong movie which spawned of spoofs, spin-offs and an actual sequel.

Ko Chun (Chow) is the legendary God of Gamblers, a myth to some. As he arrives back to Hong Kong he becomes an unintended victim to a trap and loses his memory. Ko Chun is picked up by Knife (Lau), a struggling gambler who wants to make it big on the gambling scene. Even though Ko has lost his memory, he still posesses his legendary skill. But there are others who want Ko dead and Knife is in trouble with loan sharks to pay his debts...

The storyline for this movie was pretty good and so is the comedy. Andy Lau was really funny, so was Chow in some parts (note taken: when Knife and Jane (Joey Wong) take Ko Chun to stay at a hotel and he imitates the sounds of people having sex). Chow fills up the role pretty well, but the coolest character from the whole movie has got to be Dragon (Charles Heung) a bodyguard assinged to protect Ko Chun. Well, there is little action here, but this was probably one of the earliest 'gambling' genre films, which replaced heavy-duty action with suave gambling sequences. But this ain't really a bad thing! The story was interesting and so were the plot twists. Compared to the average Wong Jing movie this actually contains good jokes, less broad humour and more phyisical comedy and verbal wordplay.

All-in-all: A well-polished Hong Kong classic which deserves the praise it gets.

*****/*****

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: faisal
Date: 01/29/2004
Summary: Rubbish.

I watched this film mainly because of the excellent reviews it got here. But I found this to be one of if not THE most overated hong kong comedy/action film ever made. The acting is poor, the action when it comes is excellent but it's too little too late and the gags are mostly unispired.
The glamourisation of gambling and the stupid sentimentality did it no favours either. Except for a few scenes (in a two hour movie!) this is pretty dire.


Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 01/27/2003

One of Wong Jing's better efforts due largely in part to Chow Yun-fat's dual layered performance as a suave gambler who becomes the victim of a prank gone wrong and left with the mind of a child (gambling finesse not withstanding). Chow's acting proves effective enough that you will forget he's portraying the same character throughout the film.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: laadolf
Date: 08/31/2002

Under appreciated as an actor in the west, Chow Yun Fat shows his incredible versatility as a performer in this Hong Kong comedy/drama.
Chow stars as Ko Chun a gifted gambler with an almost supernatural gift for gaming, hence his exalted title. Ko Chun is a suave and sophisticated master of his gaming, monetarily successful and confident in his abilities. This makes him enemies among not only opponents, but as it turns out, his allies.

Having narrowly escaped an assassination attempt, Ko Chun unwittingly walks into a trap set by Knife, a young gambler wannabe who hankers after a big score. Knife meant to teach someone else a lesson by sabotaging a trail near his home,instead, Ko Chun is the victim.

Finding the head injured gambler, Knife and his crew take him in and nurse him back to health, not realizing who has literally tumbled into their lives.

Ko Chun awakens from his trauma with no memory and regressed to a childlike demeanor. He's an appealing manchild with an insatiable hunger for a particular brand of chocolate (one carry-over from his former life), and as Knife and Co. find out, a talent for gambling. Knife and his crew make good use of their new friend's abilities--becoming upwardly mobile thanks to "Chocolate"--the nickname they bestow upon him, since Ko Chun carries no identification papers.

Chow Yun Fat has never been more endearing and astounding as the brain injured "Chocolate". Chow makes believable and incredibly touching this dramatic transformation from genius to idiot savant. His physicality reflects the change-- his facial expressions, movements and general demeanor are transformed to the point that the two aspects of Ko Chun seem almost to have been played by two different actors.

Knife and his crew come to love and protect their friend, mortgaging all they have to provide him with a surgery that might restore his sensibilities. Their Chocolate-aided success brings unwanted attention, which leads to pursuit, kidnapping, ransom and gunplay. Further trauma to poor Chocolate follows which leads to a showdown that highlights the God of Gamblers uncanny ability to win, even when opponents cheat and "friends" betray.

While Chow Yun Fat's impressive talent and charisma are at the heart and soul of this film, the supporting players are excellent, especially Andy Lau and Joey Wong.

A must see and a must own for any Chow Yun Fat fan!

NOTE: The DVD version of the film is edited, with several original scenes cut that track the ascendency of Knife and Co., and one pretty major plot point that would clarify the denouement at the film's end. VHS & VCD versions which are unedited can be sometimes found and are worthwhile for the cut footage involving Chocolate and Ko Chun.



Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 02/25/2002
Summary: No doubt about it, a classic

In a long career, Wong Jing has been involved with many distinguished productions - not always distinguished for good reasons, of course. The original GOD OF GAMBLERS is undoubtedly the highlight of his career though, which is no shame for him as it is in many ways the quintessential Hong Kong movie.

Basically an attempt to tap into some of John Woo's success, Wong Jing takes Woo's stylishness and melodrama and applies it to the gambling genre, clearly a personal favourite for him. The result is a 2 hour movie that has such a lot going for it - action, drama, comedy, more drama and those wonderful gambling scenes. The first time I saw it I also felt that the middle section lagged, as it doesn't really fit the action-packed spectacle that the trailer promises. Knowing what to expect going in makes it much easier to appreciate the movie as a whole, though - in fact I've enjoyed it more each time I've watched it I think.

There are a couple of sore points - the racist treatment of the Indian character, and the casual disregard for Cheung Man's well-being. And the fact that Andy Lau's character is such a shit at the start I guess... what on earth was he doing with a babe like Joey Wang? Beyond this though is a tale that rings fairly true, and is quite touching. The characters are mostly well developed, and there is a basic message of redemption behind it all.

The main things that will stick in the mind after viewing the movie are the action scenes though - whether it's the well choreographed Woo-style gunplay, or the equally stylish and suspenseful action at the card table. One of the few gambling movies where a non-gambler like myself can easily follow the games, too :D

The success of the movie at the Hong Kong box office has rarely been matched, ample evidence that Wong Jing managed to produce a movie that touched the right spots of the audience more than ever. And hardly anybody gets raped in it, too!

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Jackie Cheng
Date: 02/04/2002
Summary: The Orginal

It's the best Gambling movie ever.Because it is the first movie of the serie. The movie is very funny and excitening. Good action and gambling scenes. Wong Jing is the best

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/12/2002
Summary: 5 out of 5

This is a classic. Anyone who knows Wong Jings work would almost not beleive he is behind this, but he is! Very good comedy movie about gambling, one that inspired many, including the very funny All For The Winner.

Someone said it got boring in the middle, but if anything, that was the best part. Andy Lau and Joey Wong were VERY FUNNY, but Chow Yun Fat seemed to be loosing his funny side sometimes here, I think this must have been one of his last comedies before he started going on to be an action star instead.

Rating: 5/5

(This rating is based on the year & genre, so don't think it's based as a comparison on new releases etc.)


Reviewed by: danton
Date: 01/03/2002

Still one of the best examples of the HK gambling movie. There are so many reviews of this movie available, that I needn't go into plot details, I think. Anyway, the movie has it all - gun play, low-brow comedy (this is Wong Jing, after all), gambling scenes, some Kung Fu. Great fun.


Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 02/19/2001
Summary: GOOD!!

The only problem with this movie is:
when Chow Yun Fat get amnesia!! I found this middle part quite boring!!

Apart from that, this movie is great!! Lots of style and class and a great ending!!

A movie you got to watch at least once and hopefully, it WON'T make you gamble!!

Only because of the boring middle part, i would of given this a high score!!

7.5/10

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: SUPERCOP
Date: 12/27/1999
Summary: Fun Wong Jing effort....

Commercial filmmaker Wong Jing directed this box office smash in which literally launched a franchise, with numerous sequels and ripoffs soon to follow. Chow Yun-fat, giving a terrific performance, stars as Do Sun, aka, the God of Gamblers. Following an accident which leaves him with the mentality of a child, he is taken under the wing of a poor wannabe con-artist, played by pop singer Andy Lau. Plenty of hilarious comedy, highlighted by some inventive gambling and stunt-riddled shootouts makes God of Gamblers one of Wong Jing's best films to date.


Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/21/1999

An intelligent and original movie unfortunately it is sloppily made (Wrong Jing doesn't know how to direct)... but a great performance by Chow Yun Fat.

(7/10)

[Reviewed by Andrej Blazeka]


Reviewed by: hokazak
Date: 12/09/1999

Excellent performance by Chow Yun Fat in this classic tale of an extraordinarily gifted, suave super-gambler who loses his memory after receiving a bump on the head, and regresses to a childlike mental state, only to be "adopted" by Andy Lau and Joey Wong, who want to use his "gift" to get rich. Incredible action scene in a parking garage where CYF (still in "child"-mode) and his protector, "Dragon" take on a slew of attackers in spectacular fashion. Good mix of comedy and drama.


Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Fun but overrated comedy somewhat inspired by "RAIN MAN". I must actually say that "GOD OF GAMBLER' S RETURN" is, in certain ways, more entertaining. It' s still worth seeing. Chow Yun-fat was nominated for for a Hong Kong award for his performance (he won but for his (much better) performance in "ALL ABOUT AH-LONG". Was followed by several direct and indirect sequel

[Reviewed by Martin Sauvageau]


Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Chow Yun Fat in maybe his best acting role ever. Fats co-stars with Andy Lau (could you want more) and Lau's girlfriend is played by Joey Wong. This is an amazing story ..the whole film builds on that. The most interesting thing about this movie, though, is that it almost personifies the ability of some HK cinema to defy the rules of Hollywood 'Genre' theory. All the different classifications (comedy/serious/action/etc) kind of co-exist without having to be defined like in western movies. This affect is maybe only clearer in Sammo Hung's "Pedicab Driver". We dont see 'types' of movie side-by-side, as in the Hollywood 'action/comedy' or 'romance/thriller' - they all appear to be indiscriminatly blurred - this is a great effect. Watch out for Chow Yun Fat's mind bending acting moment where he plays the God of gamblers, with partial memory loss and thus returned to childhood, being unwittingly goaded into pretending that he's the God Of Gamblers (himself) ...think about it when you watch it , then bow the the temple of Chow.

[Reviewed by Andrew Best]


Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

Chow Yun-Fat plays a gambler who cannot lose in this, one ofthe most popular HK films of all time. The opening and closing casino sequences more than justify its popularity, despite a soggy middle section where our hero gets amnesia after getting hit on the head by a rock.

(3/4)



[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 7