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The Film
God of Gamblers II

Its Origin
Hong Kong

Running Time
100 mins

Genre(s)
Action
Comedy
Gambling

Director(s)
Wong Jing

Stars
Stephen Chow
Andy Lau
Cheung Man
Ng Man Tat

DVD Distributor
Mei Ah

DVD Origin
Hong Kong

Region Code
All

DVD Format
NTSC

Audio Tracks
Cantonese DD 2.0
Mandarin DD 2.0


Subtitles
Chinese, English, Bahasa Malaysia

Screen Format
Full Screen

Special Info
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Film rating:
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God of Gamblers II


Film & DVD Review
A year has passed since the God Of Gamblers asked Little Knife to be his disciple. Little Knife is following his master's footsteps and rapidly rising in the gambling world, becoming so successful that he is dubbed "The Knight of Gamblers". Sing Chi, "The Saint of Gamblers", would like to be God of Gamblers disciple, he asks Little Knife for help. At the same time, Mr Chan's son in law, Hussein, attacks them to gain revenge for the humiliation and imprisonment of Mr Chan by Ko Chun...

There's a definite theme to the films I've been watching of late. They all either seem to be Stephen Chow films and/or gambling films. So why not put the two together in this sequel to the original God Of Gamblers. While Chow Yun Fat only really shows up in flashback moments, the rest of the cast from the original make an appearance at one point or another. The events that take place in this film are a direct follow on from the climax of the original.

What the viewer is treated to when watching God Of Gamblers II is a Stephen Chow comedy in the God Of Gamblers universe and unfortunately the two are not the best mix you could hope for. Taking the previously fairly serious world of God Of Gamblers (with the exception of the typical Hong Kong out of place comedy) and adding in a large chunk of intentionally comedic scenes from Stephen Chow taints the seriousness of the series of films. The added comedy, the vast majority of which is fairly slap-stick and stupid, detracts from the violence and intensity of the gun-fights, which have also been toned down here in number. This is an unwelcome change to the world, as the cut-throat business of gambling that has been built up and portrayed over the Chow Yun Fat films in the series, now seems fairly trivialised. Yes, it is still violent with people willing to kill, but it has also now become more ridiculous. This is further made so by the quantifying of the "Special Powers" held by several of the characters in this film. We knew that Ko Chun (Chow Yun Fat) had the ability to somehow change the card that was in his hand, but this ability always remained mysterious. In this film the ability metaphorically has a face put on it and by doing so the magic and mystery is ruined. No content with ruining the gambling in this way, the film-makers further ruined the gambling and the film by incorporating many other different "Special Powers", like remote viewing, hallucination inducing, telekinesis and x-ray vision among others. The words "far fetched" have never rung more truly.

All these ridiculous additions to this gambling series of films are a possible inevitability by crossing the series with such a renowned comedian as Stephen Chow. Don't get me wrong, I love a lot of his films, quite often particularly the ones where he has his right hand man, Ng Man Tat, co-starring, but here his style of humour did not gel well with the film. The gambling is fairly cleverly done when it is just Little Knife (Andy Lau) doing his own thing, but when Stephen Chow comes into it, all the magic is gone, replaced by super powers and slap-stick. The film makes other sacrifices in favour of more screen time for Chow and his comedy, most notably the rescuing of Ng Man Tat's character and Ng Long (Charles Heung). In the Chow Yun Fat films in the series, the viewer would have witnessed the rescue amidst a blaze of gunfire, stylishly shot and with a high body count. Not so in this case. What the viewer gets is the supposed captives turning up on screen basically stating, "I've been rescued". Hardly suspenseful and very anti-climatic.

Some bits of humour did manage to raise a slight smirk on my face, but not much more than that, and not very frequently. Maybe it was because I was a little prejudiced against such a focus on humour being in this film, I don't know, but too much of it was a miss in the "hit or miss" categories. Chow's style of humour works so much better in most of his later films than it does here.

Andy Lau's Little Knife or Knight of Gamblers as he became known was a character that seemed to be adjusted as necessary to further the plot. At the very start we see him performing some impossible gambling feats, proving that he is a master gambler manipulating the cards to get the win he requires, yet at other point in the film, he comes across as fairly inept. In the latter stages he openly relies of Chow's "Special Powers" in order to beat the film's bad guy. Now to me this is not the same person that we see at the start of the film. If he is such a good gambler, which we are lead to believe at the start, security cameras or other electronic monitoring devices should not really be able to beat him, and someone as good as him should not require Chow's help to win. But as the viewer witnesses, he does rely on and require Chow's help and on quite a few instances comes across as not worthy of being Ko Chun's disciple nor the name Knight of Gamblers.

There are a lot of faults with God Of Gamblers II, a lot of which is to do with the change in focus of the film from gambling and action to comedy. Much like the other gambling film that features Chow's character Saint of Gamblers, All For The Winner, this film fails to live up to its potential.

Audio & Subtitles
A stereo soundtrack that didn't set my world alight is what you can find featured on this release. The audio is fairly clear, but possibly a little too focused on the higher frequency range as there wasn't a huge amount of depth to the bass. Other than that, there wasn't much to praise or criticise.

The subtitles were burnt in English and Chinese. As is often the case with subtitles of this sort, longer lines frequently disappeared off the edges of the film print, some lines were not on screen for long enough and sometimes the text was incredibly difficult to read due to it being on a light background. Spelling and grammatical errors occurred often, but the general gist of the text could always be understood.

Quality
A full screen print, eh? Jeez... remember the days when we actually watched TV on a 4:3 screen?! Ha! How primitive. So it was quite weird to watch a film like that for the first time in quite a while. Based on that, everything else was pretty much as you'd expect - not a great standard. The print looked quite soft, there were frequent speckles and the like on screen and colours were not that bright and bold. Certain scenes I would have expected the reds to be redder etc. but they were not.

DVD & Extras
Absolutely zilch. Nadda. No menu screen or anything.

Overall
I may be a fan of both Stephen Chow and Andy Lau, but there are so many films in their careers that rank above this one. They took the successful God Of Gamblers world and mixed in the successful Stephen Chow, then didn't really know how to make them work together.

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All review content copyrighted © (2003-2009) Kris Wojciechowski

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