Conman in Tokyo


Generally speaking, I do my best to stay away from any film with Nick Cheung in it. His “wannabe Stephen Chow” act is annoying as hell and a pale, uninspired imitation of the original. He always looks as if he is trying too hard to be funny – and though comedy is difficult it should look easy. Still, I had seen some positive comments on this film and it had the benefit of some lovely jawbreakers in the forms of Athena Chu and the recently returned Christy Chung. So with expectations lower than a lonely guy’s mood on a Saturday night, I sat back to watch this and much to my surprise I found myself quite enjoying this silly Wong Jing production.
Nick Cheung, Christy Cheung, Louis Koo and Athena Chu
Like any Wong Jing film, it has the depth of a politician in front of the TV news cameras – but it has a terrific bright look to it – it seems to have a real budget associated with it (hell, they rent an aircraft carrier for the final scene!) – it is effortlessly light and sleek and it is directed by legend Ching Siu Tung. Clearly, this is not Swordsman II or Duel to the Death or even Wonder Seven! – but Ching keeps the film moving swiftly, the tone light and provides some enjoyable action scenes. Considering that he has to do this primarily with Nick and Louis Koo – two actors not particularly known for their martial arts skills – the action scenes look fairly good.
The film tries to balance two disparate genres – the manic comedy of Cheung and the subdued and dramatic acting of Louis Koo. Their performances could almost be in two entirely different films they strike such different moods, but somehow it really doesn’t seem to matter – though I would have preferred less of Cheung and more of Koo. Both Christy and Athena are scrumptious side dishes in this film – Christy is quite appealing in a self-mocking shopaholic role in which her linguistic skills are made fun of – and Athena is just lovely.
Nick, Christy, Leung Kar Yan, Wong Ting
After defeating Leung Kar Yan (in a funny Afro attired cameo) in a pool match, Cheung’s character Jersy declares himself to be the top gambler in HK. Wise old man Wong Ting brings Nick down to earth by telling him that he is a mere shadow of Cool – a legendary gambler who vanished from Hong Kong three years previously just before his big match with a Japanese gambler, Yasuaki Kurata, was to take place. Nick and Christy fly off to Tokyo to go on a shopping spree – and after an exhausting day of buying things for Christy they find a small Chinese restaurant to eat in. Some Yakuzas come in looking for extortion money – and are soon sent scurrying away by the shop owner with a spinning flying coffee saucer that cuts right into the arm of the leader of the group.
Koo and Chu
Nick immediately realizes this must be Cool – famous for his ability to use playing cards as deadly flying weapons. Cool comes in the form of Louis Koo – who retired from the lush life after his girlfriend, Athena, in a misunderstanding left him and married his vicious partner, Ben Lam. They still loved each other though, but Athena was crippled in an attempt on Koo’s life. Now Koo can only love her paralyzed body from afar. Nick re-awakens Cool and persuades him to reclaim his life and his love – leading to the inevitable gambling match and some good action.
Athena, Ben Ng, Koo and Yasuaki Kurata
A fair amount of CGI effects are utilized – some of it quite good – the flying cards vs. the flying deadly dart fight between Cool and a Japanese femme fatale is great fun – but some of it is also ridiculously phony looking – such as Cool and Nick dodging missiles shot at them on the ship. Overall though it is good fun – easy on the eyes – and not to be taken seriously for a moment.

My rating for this film: 7.0



DVD Information:

Distributed by Deltamac

The transfer is terrific - great colors, very sharp

Letterboxed

Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks

The subtitles are Chinese and English - though oddly even with the letterbox format they wander off the page on the sides from time to time.

There is a confusing menu that I never figured out. First it is in Chinese - with options for chapters (8) and for a trailer. There is another option but for the life of me I could not understand what it did. To access the language and sub-titles I had to use my remote control buttons.