Casino Raiders

Andy Lau should ask Alan Tam to act along side with him in every film he is in. He should be willing to pay in fact. Next to Tam, Andy looks like a method actor, a HK Best Actor Award winner (well actually he is but . . . that’s another story). Tam goes through most of this film as wooden as a bar stool and one has to wonder just how many doses of  Prozak he was on. Terrible things happen to people close to him and his expression never seems to change. Tam was of course a huge pop star in the 80’s with his band the Wynners – but his film work (here and in the Jackie Chan film Armor of God) has left me fairly unimpressed. But by contrast he makes Andy look great – he breathes, he emotes.
This is a somewhat mis-shaped film that came about at the beginning of the gambling film craze, but it really has very little gambling in the film. It is much more of a “buddy film” that wanders about aimlessly (but with some charm) for the first half like a Hope/Crosby road film  – until it takes on some suspenseful melodrama in the second half. The film runs for two hours – and a good thirty minutes could have been left on the editing floor with no one the wiser. Still, somehow the film managed to keep me engaged – and much of that oddly had to do with a surprisingly solid performance from Andy. On occasions, Andy leaves the Idol image behind and focuses on creating a character.
Andy (Crab Chan – but I don’t want to even hazard a guess as to how he picked up that nickname!) and Alan (Sam) are great friends, scam artists and gamblers – and Rosamund Kwan is their Dorothy Lamour. The two of them are called to Las Vegas to help out a friend who runs a casino there. The casino is losing millions of dollars to a few gamblers and though the friend is sure they must be cheating he can’t figure out how. It takes our boys about five minutes to figure it out and then they are out on the town for some fun. Here Alan meets the daughter (Chan Yuk Lin) of a wealthy HK businessman and courts her by hiring a roomful of Hollywood stuntmen to stage a phony barroom brawl. Hey, whatever works.
The three of them troop back to HK where Alan gives up gambling for the love of this woman and Andy takes up with Rosamund. But it turns out that the cheaters in Vegas were killed and their Japanese Yakuza backers are not very pleased and they come after our two boys. This leads to some fairly good scenes – there is one with Andy that is a classic melodramatic moment that only HK films provide anymore. Of course, there is the big gambling showdown at the end. I should mention that it had the fifth highest box office in HK in 1989.
Broken down into its components this is a fairly weak and unfocused effort, but somehow I found it quite watchable – and it takes a few unexpected turns. I would not highly recommend it – but if you are an Andy fan you could do much worse.

My rating for this film: 6.5