Action takes many forms in RETURN OF THE GOD OF GAMBLERS, a surprisingly comedic sequel to the 1989 Hong Kong hit GOD OF GAMBLERS. A tale of rivalry and revenge directed by Wong Jing, it supplements the expected gunfights and chase scenes with more subtle confrontations over a deck of
cards, telekinetic powers, romance, and heartbreak.
Ko Chun, the God of Gamblers (Chow Yun-Fat) is enjoying his four-year retirement from gambling as a father-to-be sequestered in a Parisian manison. His seclusion is violently interupted when an old rival, Chau, attacks the house; Chun fights off a small army only to find his wife Yau dying and his
unborn son brutally aborted by Chau's men. On her deathbed, Yau pleads that Chun not gamble or admit to being the God of Gamblers for one year. Desperate to avenge his family's deaths, Chun grows restless as the year since Yau's death nears an end. He travels to Mainland China, where he is
befriended by Hoi On, who is, unbeknownst to Chun, an underworld character. Chau attacks Hoi On's yacht, and despite Chun's victory in an fantastically implausible underwater fight, he can rescue only Hoi On's young son Siu Yuen and before the ship explodes promises to take the boy home to Taiwan.
Mistaking them for culprits rather than victims of the attack, police arrest Chun and the boy, but they manage to escape and hide out at an inn where they join forces with some new acquaintances, the foremost being Little Trumpet (Tony Leung Kar-fai), who makes an appealignly comic--if
crude--sidekick for the suave God of Gamblers.
Upon reaching Taiwan, the boy is kidnapped by Chau's men before his sister, Hoi Tong, can meet him. Hoi Tong, having taken over her father's business, arranges for the rivals to meet in a luxurious casino. Because Chun cannot gamble for three more days without breaking his vow, Little Trumpet must
pose as the God of Gamblers, resulting in high slapstick confusion and recurrent attacks by Chau's men. In time for the big showdown, Chun reveals his true identity. While Chau enlists the aide of a telekinetic magician with the power to change cards, the God of Gambler's own psychic powers
prevail. Chun not only wins the match but avenges the deaths of his wife and unborn son.
While RETURN OF THE GOD OF GAMBLERS takes an unnecessarily long time to tell its story (125 minutes), a strong and reserved performance by Chow Yun-Fat, and an inversely broad and leering appearance by Tony Leung Kar-fai, make the time pass pleasantly, even in the protracted climactic card game. A
subplot involving Little Trumpet's sister's adoration for the God of Gamblers may seem discordantly saccharine, (especially to viewers unfamiliar with the Hong Kong action genre, which frequently incorporates a deeply romantic story line), but Chun's graceful handling of her teenage crush only
adds to his appeal as a gentleman as well as a man of action.
Portrayals of the Mainland Chinese are broadly cartoonish. For example, once off the mainland, the police captain taken hostage by our heroes undergoes a fervent conversion, so enamoured of capitalism--and so stupid--that he can't be bothered to remove the price tag from his newly purchased
designer sunglasses. A few such misfired attempts at political humor fall vulgarly flat in a film of otherwise high-spirited comedy, action, and heartfelt emotions. (Graphic violence.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: Action takes many forms in RETURN OF THE GOD OF GAMBLERS, a surprisingly comedic sequel to the 1989 Hong Kong hit GOD OF GAMBLERS. A tale of rivalry and revenge directed by Wong Jing, it supplements the expected gunfights and chase scenes with more subtle… (more)