Ko Chun is forced out of retirement when his rival brutally kills his pregnant wife. He promises her that he will keep his identity secret for a year, but is soon caught up in intrigue when he rescues the son of a Taiwanese triad boss, Hui. Pursued by the police, the fugitives find shelter with a brother and sister team of swindlers. Along with a kidnapped police chief, this uneasy alliance makes it to Taiwan, where Hui's beautiful daughter sets up the most important challenge of the God of Gamblers life.
This is the same film as The Return of the God of Gamblers released by MIA - Hong Kong Classics.
The original God Of Gamblers was a good film that introduced a fantastic character, but was let down by some rather irritating scenes throughout its running time. Still, the potential was there for some more cool and stylish stories featuring the man Ko Chun and it was with that anticipation that I watched God Of Gamblers' Return.
Quite surprisingly I wasn't really disappointed with this effort. Granted there are still too many out of place slap-stick comedy scenes, but overall I actually preferred this film to its predecessor. One of the reasons for this was the opening scenes in Ko Chun's French mansion. Guns galore and an onslaught of drone bad guys whose sole purpose it seems is to get shot. Not that I'm complaining as this heralded back to the better action moments from the original, like the car park shoot-out, and set the scene for a good action flick. This violent introductory tone to the film was made all the more brutal when the viewer discovers what has been done to Ko Chun's wife. In all honestly I wasn't expecting the brutality evident in those scenes and sets God Of Gamblers' Return as a far darker film than before. It also labels the film's villain as the unfathomable monster who will resort to anything to get what he wants. The viewer wants him dead, and probably will only have to wait till the end of the film for Ko Chun to outsmart him.
That tone doesn't last too long though as soon the comedy element (that probably shouldn't even be in the film) kicks in and the lighter entertainment begins. Most of this revolves around Leung Ka Fai and Elvis Tsui's characters, and it is with them that we see the gambling start. It is not overly stylish to start with, mainly because Leung Ka Fai is only an amateur gambler; no where near the league of Ko Chun, but things slowly improve with the glorious introduction of Chingmy Yau into the film. She's so cute! Something about her, probably her body and looks to be honest, just makes any film she is in better than it would have been without her, and this is no exception. She's kick-ass, smart and sexy.
Everything builds up with some smaller gambling scenes and more gunfights right until the final gambling scenes between Ko Chun and his wife's murderer. Here everything goes wrong for Ko Chun and the viewer is left despairing over how Ko Chun will turn things around for his favour. The gambling isn't quite as stylish as I would have liked, there is little in the way of flair or creativity, with these gambling matches seemingly more a battle of wits and attrition. Still, it is all very entertaining, even if the twist at the end and its explanation are a tad unbelievable.
Audio & Subtitles
Despite recently being relatively disappointed with the DTS 5.1 mix for God Of Gamblers I still chose to watch this film in DTS mode. This was simply so that I could give my surround system another use and also to see if they improved things for the sequel. Unfortunately they haven't. There are still a lot of effects that are played around the surrounds despite the sound happening in front of you on the screen. However, it is less noticeable on the whole here than before as there are more gunfights and action scenes in this sequel than in the original. This gives more opportunity for the bullets to fly around the sound stage and for the viewer to forget other sounds that were out of positioning. Aside from this criticism, the audio track is decent, but not spectacular. Volume levels are well balanced, although some sounds come across slightly muffled and others a little tinny.
As before, there are frequent spelling, grammatical and tensing errors in the subtitles. Despite the mistakes it is still relatively easy to understand the meaning of the sentences on screen.
On the whole God Of Gamblers' Return has a decent looking film print. Detail levels look good in most places, but there are some scenes where the print is notably softer than elsewhere in the film. There are quite frequent speckles and the like on the transfer during the film, which fortunately are not at all distracting. Colours seemed good, although black and shadow levels during the darker scenes weren't as deep and detailed as you'd hope for.
DVD & Extras
Like with its predecessor, this release comes housed in an outer slipcase. For extras there is all the usual stuff, cast and crew filmographies, the film's synopsis etc. The only thing worth mentioning is a short interview with Wong Jing. However, if you have watched the interview on the God Of Gamblers DVD, then there is no point in watching this one as it contains identical footage, but less of it. Of the 10 minute or so interview on God Of Gamblers about 3 or so minutes of it have been used here. A bit of a con really.
I preferred watching this film to the original God Of Gamblers mainly because it didn't have Chow Yun Fat acting like a child. Those scenes annoyed me in the original. This film is more violent and not quite as stupidly slap-stick and the gambling is entertaining if not quite a flamboyant as I would have liked. Definitely worth watching though.