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