God of Gamblers Returns (1994) Review

"God of Gamblers Returns" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"God of Gamblers Returns" Chinese Theatrical Poster

AKA: God of Gamblers 2
Director: Wong Jing
Producer: Charles Heung, Wong Jing, Jimmy Heung
Cast: Chow Yun Fat, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Jacqueline Wu Chien Lien, Chingmy Yau, Elvis Tsui Kam Kong, Charles Heung, Tse Miu, Blacky Ko Sau Leung, Ken Lo, Baau Hon Lam, Bobby Yip Kin Sang, Yuen Bun
Running Time: 125 min.

By Numskull

Saying that Wong Jing has consistency is like saying “Miramax has integrity” or “Mei Ah has quality control”; a blatant lie. Wong Jing is consistent in only one thing: his inconsistency. As far as I’m concerned, this man is almost single-handedly responsible for the widely-held (and not entirely inaccurate) belief that Hong Kong films often fail to maintain a coherent tone. In this movie’s opening scenes, Ko Chun’s wife gets cut open and his unborn son is removed and placed in a jar like a lab specimen (the delicious irony being that the perpetrator is pissed off about not being given control of a childrens’ charity fund). With her last breath (getting ripped open and losing about half of her blood doesn’t seem to hurt her in the slightest; she just sounds sleepy), she makes her husband promise not to gamble with anyone or to reveal his identity as the God of Gamblers for one year. Why? Alas, she dies before giving any sensible explanation. I’m sure that Wong Jing came up with a very solid and logical reason for this, but decided not to put it in the finished film. I’m also sure that the Loch Ness Monster lives in the apartment above mine and sells rare baseball cards on eBay to earn money to support his glue-sniffing habit.

From there, Ko Chun is thrown into a variety of ridiculous situations ranging from shootouts pilfered from John Woo’s leftovers to ethnocentric comic relief that will go right over the heads of most Westerners (or, perhaps I’m giving it too much credit and it really isn’t funny no matter where you’re from). Ko Chun hooks up with a dead gangster’s kid, his ass-kicking sister (Chingmy Yau at her most boner-inducing), a buffoonish cop, and a pair of con artists. The evil gambler this time is Chau Siu-Chee, who is led to believe that Little Trumpet (Tony Leung Ka Fai’s character) is the real God of Gamblers, but is not the least bit surprised to find himself opposite Chow Yun-Fat when it’s time for the big card game a year after he killed his wife and kid. Oh yeah, and there’s a guy with psychic powers who can read minds, change playing cards, and set peoples’ hats on fire. And, speaking of fire, how about the scene where a building gets blown up, then the cops immediately go in and there’s no fire or smoke or wreckage anywhere in sight?

I think by now you get the idea; this movie is full of holes and is about as even as the number 13. Its predecessor was pretty good (the portions of it that Mei Ah saw fit to let us see, anyway), but, since this IS Wong Jing we’re dealing with here, it comes as no surprise that lightning did not strike twice.

Miramax owns the North American distribution rights for this film. If and when they release it, they will probably replace the image of the preserved fetus with a jar of pickles. “Chau Siu-Chee!”, the guy doing Ko Chun’s voice will say. “You killed my wife and broke the seal on my pickles! I had to eat them all by myself before they went bad! My urine was green for a week! Now I will get my revenge!”

Which would ALMOST be an improvement.

Numskull’s Rating: 4/10

By Vic Nguyen

Hong Kong’s top box office attraction in 1994, Wong Jing’s absurdly uneven sequel to his 1989 hit is nonetheless highly entertaining, and a must for newbies to the gambling flick genre. As per usual with a Wong Jing production, the film reeks of inconsistency, going from violent revenge flick to screwball slapstick at any given time. Chow Yun-fat (in the “fat Elvis” stage of his career) handles these abrupt shifts in tone with relative ease, switching from brooding intensity to charming grin at a moments notice. In addition, the all star cast, including Tony Leung Kar-fai (whenever he and Chow are onscreen together, you can’t help but think of Prison on Fire), Wu Chien-lin (a multi-talented performer; see her demented killer role in Intruder), and Chingmy Yau Suk-ching (star of the highly overrated Naked Killer), handle themselves well amidst the carnival-like atmosphere. With plenty of gunplay, violence, juvenile humor, and gambling, God of Gamblers Return is sure to have something for everyone, and is definitely worth a look.

Vic Nguyen’s Rating: 7.5/10

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