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The Film
Conman 2002, The

Its Origin
Hong Kong

Running Time
98 mins

Genre(s)
Comedy
Gambling

Director(s)
Aman Chang

Stars
Nick Cheung
Stephen Fung
Mango Wong
Wyman Wong
Wong Yat Fei

DVD Distributor
Universe

DVD Origin
Hong Kong

Region Code
All

DVD Format
NTSC

Audio Tracks
Cantonese DD 5.1
Mandarin DD 5.1


Subtitles
Chinese, English

Screen Format
Letterboxed

Special Info
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Conman 2002, The


Film & DVD Review

Despite half of his life being spent as a luckless guy, Ka Shing is offered a job by Spring, a big gang brother in gambling, who turns his bad luck into a philosopher's stone. Kau, Spring's enemy, suffers a huge loss in the casino, and decides to get rid of both of them. He then takes over Spring's business and holds a gambling competition where Ka Shing has extremely good luck. Knowing this is closely related to his ancestor's grave, Kau orders his men to change Ka Shing's luck back by destroying the Feng Shui...

I was a reasonable fan of The Conman series of films, which travelled in locations from Tokyo to Vegas to Hong Kong. This instalment brings us back to Hong Kong and despite having Nick Cheung in the lead role, this is not a reprisal of his character from the previous films. This is an all new film, with all new characters, cashing in on the Conman name. Well, they did need something to make people watch it.

I may as well just start of with the sweeping statement about the film that sets the tone for the rest of the review. The Conman 2002 is not very good. In fact it is quite typical for a Hong Kong comedy in that a lot of the humour is kind of off-the-wall stupid in style and some attempts at humour are just not funny at all . Fortunately some of the humour does have its moments and can raise a smile or even a slight giggle or two - those scenes mainly being the penalty taking scenes, which are meant to mimic real life emotions. Unfortunately these good humour moments are few and far between and are padded by so much bad humour that the memory of the film can be nothing else other than poo.

"Poo". That's a more apt a thought on this film than you'd actually believe. One of the central story lines has quite a linking to poo; something which you'd never have thought could be an enticing story line. Well it isn't really, but it is the focus of the explanation to Lee Ka Shing's bad luck. Anyway, poo aside, being a gambling film there are plenty of opportunity to make cool looking gambling martial art type scenes that have graced many other gambling films. Some cool looking gambling choreography can go along way to making the genre extremely entertaining, one reason why I am a fan of The Conman series. Well make that The Conman series, except this one. Basically all the gambling scenes are wasted. Their potential is never realised, with them actually being quite dull to watch. The only likely exception is the dice puzzle at the end, but this is different largely because it is a clever dialogue scene more than anything else. So the humour fails to reach par, likewise with the gambling, the only element left to save the film is the action.

There are a few fights in The Conman 2002 but neither Stephen Fung nor Nick Cheung is a martial artist. Fung is obviously the better of the two which is why he is given more proper fighting scenes, whereas Cheung only has comedy fights. Fung's are mildly entertaining to watch but nothing special, and Cheung's are not that funny. Better examples of comedy fights have been demonstrated by Stephen Chow so many times and with such success that the few that Cheung has can't really compare.

The acting is alright, but with a poor film to act in, it was never going to shine. The highlight of the film (yes, there is one!) is Mango Wong simply because she is absolutely gorgeous! She is ridiculously cute and good looking and ultimately the best reason to watch this film.

Audio & Subtitles
The Cantonese DD 5.1 track comes across as if it is a mix of a stereo track as very few effects are played around the speakers. You'll get some swishing noises and other ambient effects played out of the surrounds, but that's about it. The rest of the audio comes from the front centre speaker. It is reasonably clear and audible.

The subtitles don't fare so well though. There are frequent spelling and grammar errors. A few of the errors change the meaning in their sentence a little, but it is always obvious that it is an error (or at least I think it is). The general meaning always comes across but the frequency of the errors is quite annoying and distracting.

Quality
The film print actually looked ok. It is a 4:3 letterbox transfer, so detail is not that high. There wasn't much grain though and colour seemed not bad. I didn't notice much, if any, speckling or other dirt on the print, which was quite surprising.

DVD & Extras
For extras you are not treated to much at all. There is Stars' Files which contain information on Nick Cheung and Stephen Fung's careers, the film's trailer and trailers for two other films. That's yer lot.

Overall
The Conman 2002 is a poor entry into the Conman series of films. I think it is just cashing in on the name to gain extra publicity. It is not that funny, not that exciting and not that interesting, but it does have a gorgeous female in it. A good reason to watch it, but not really enough of a reason. Personally I'd avoid this one given the choice.

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

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