God of Gamblers (1989)

April 11, 2003 • Film, hong kong, Reviews

gog_cyf1Do San (the God of gamblers) is a legendary gambler helped by his supernatural abilities. He undertakes to help a friend pay a debt by beating his friend’s advisory at the card table. Despite being assigned a bodyguard Do San has a freak accident which leaves him with partial memory loss and at a mental stage of a child. The small time hustler Knife, his side-kick and his girl friend, being responsible for the accident takes care of the retarded Do San. After some time they discover that he has not lost all of his powers and takes him on a round at the local gambling halls. After being chased by both Knife’s loan-shark and enemies closer to the home of Do San, a final showdown at the card tables may take place.

Directors: Wong Jing
Script: Wong Jing
Producer: Heung Wa Sing

Chow Yun-Fat
Andy Lau Tak-Wah
Joey Wang
Charles Heung
Cheung Man

Cantonese: Diy San
Mandarin: Du3 Shen2
Country: Hong Kong

Language: Cantonese
Running Time: 98 min


gog_cyf2“A happy mix of action and gentle comedy, God of Gamblers should appeal to anyone who is interested in gambling, good movies or just having a good time. A perennial favorite of fans, I have yet to meet anyone who has seen this film and didn’t like it on at least some level. Chow Yun-Fat pulls out all the stops in his performance as Ko Chun, the man known in the gambling world as Do San or God of Gamblers. Sleek and sophisticated, he is seemingly invincible at the gaming table; women want him, men admire him and casinos fear him. This is a great date movie, or one to watch again and again on rainy afternoons or when you just want to watch a movie that is pure fun.

–Leigh Melton, A Freeman in Hong Kong

“A huge hometown hit that kicked off a wave of “”gambler”” films in Hong Kong in 1989. Chow Yun-Fat plays a legendary sportsman so adept that he can listen to the dice rattling in the cup and “”sense”” the outcome. He is poised to take on his greatest challenge, a Singapore bigwig known for cheating, when he is accidentally bopped on the bean and develops a form of superamnesia that amounts to reversion to childhood. As rehabilitated by a good-hearted apprentice card sharp (Andy Lau), Chow becomes famous all over again, under the new sobriquet “”The Retarded King of Gamblers.”” The finale is especially gratifying, as Chow trounces all his enemies at the card table. There are some hair-raisingly dangerous-looking stunts, and some winning interludes of subadolescent let’s-make-a-mess slapstick.”

–David Chute

Wacky and dumb in the way that only Wong Jing movies can be, this is a film that is not only rescued from awfulness by the wonderful exuberance of its cast, but it’s also a film that manages to be great while trading on the same material. Nowadays it’s one of the classics of New Wave Hong Kong cinema, and, much as I would hate to admit it, the movie deserves to be labelled as such.

Chow Yun-Fat, Joey Wong, and Andy Lau are absolutely great in the film. Chow plays the God of Gamblers, a character who never loses any sort of gambling game. With Chow’s remarkable performance, this character takes on a kind of majesty. But this majesty is humbled when the gambler falls off a cliff and loses his memory. He is rescued by Joey and Andy, exhilaratingly fresh as a pair of would-be gangster lovers. And, will Chow’s intellect has been reduced to a fraction of what it once was, he ironically remains the God of Gamblers.

The humor in the film bounds all over the map. As usual, Wong Jing tries to throw in everything but the kitchen sink, hoping that something connects with the audience. Though this time, his approach is miraculously cohesive, and the film manages to be funny and suspenseful. This film is Wong Jing’s best work, one of only a few of his films that are even palatable. And for it we have to thank a group of great actors at the height of their respective talents. In addition to Chow, Wang and Lau, there are smaller parts excellently delivered by Cheung Man, Ng Man-Tat, and Michiko Nishiwaki.

Related Posts

Comments are closed.

« »