Casino Raiders II
Good lord – could they have poured any more melodrama
into a ninety-minute film? It feels like director Johnnie To pulls out
just about every old dramatic device that he can think of in an effort
to tug at the heart strings of the audience – perhaps to some excess though
as it becomes almost amusing after a while. You just wonder what terrible
thing will happen next – murder, a frame up, dismemberment, suicide, blindness,
unwanted pregnancy, a wife sleeping with the enemy, an adorable abused
girl and worst of all – Andy Lau having to dress up in a funny little outfit
and work behind a fast food counter!
Other than the title and Andy Lau once again
taking center stage, this film has no relation to either of the other two
Casino Raider films. He shares top billing with Wu Chien-lien who he had
teamed up with only the year before in the hugely successful A Moment of
Romance. Even though they do share a motorcycle ride together, their underwritten
and constantly arguing characters do little to generate the same heat and
chemistry here that they had in the previous film - but there is one truly
gut wrenching scene involving the two of them that is quite emotionally
Uncle Fan (Lau Siu-ming), Andy, Wu Chien-lien
and Lee Sui-kei – run a small gambling enterprise on a houseboat off of
HK. It quickly becomes clear (through a flashback) that they were once
big time gamblers but one of Uncle Fan’s disciples (Kelvin Wong Siu) betrayed
him, crippled him and framed Fan’s son, Kit (Wong Git), for murder. Andy
is now training for the upcoming Asian Championship and for their redemption.
One of the gambling exercises is for Uncle Fan to rapidly scale playing
cards at Andy and have him pick out and catch a winning hand in mid-air!
Before this happens though Kelvin comes back into
their lives looking for a jade piece. What jade piece you might ask? Well,
it seems that before the God of Gamblers retired he gave away two jade
pieces that would allow anyone who possessed both to become the greatest
gambler of all! Kelvin believes that Uncle Fan has it and he has his right
hand thug Anthony Wong (in a wonderfully nasty performance) attempt to
This all leads to some tragic occurrences – but
that’s just the beginning. Soon Kit is released from jail – comes back
to find that his wife is living with Anthony Wong and that his small daughter
has been stowed with some relatives who have chained her up in a back room!
To prove to Kelvin that he doesn’t want to challenge him in the gambling
arena – he commits a horrific act of self sacrifice that leaves you stunned.
And there are still lots of bad things waiting to happen. Monica Chan shows
up from America on a mysterious errand and looks after Kit. As in nearly
every film of this type – there is of course the final gambling showdown.
Certainly, this is far from the lean and taut
style that To perfected later in his Milkyway productions, but the film
is engaging in a soap operish/popcorn eating way. Andy gives a stoic and
handsome performance with an unlit cigarette seemingly always dangling
from his lower lip, Wu Chien-lien is lovely if somewhat annoying - but
that one traumatic scene makes up for it – but the story is all laid on
with a very thick brush. The excessive number of characters and plot turns
diffuse the emotional impact that the film should have had. Some other
pluses are some nicely sung tunes from Andy (?) on the soundtrack – and
the limited action that is choreographed by Ching Siu-tung has two terrific
moments – one involving a car driving under two trucks and the other a
boat flying onto a dock.
My rating for this film: 6.0
Distributed by Universe
The transfer is acceptable - a little
soft in the indoor scenes but certainly watchable.
Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks
Subtitles: Chinese , English
It includes it's own trailer but no others
- but be warned the trailer has two major spoilers in it.
The sub-titles are easy to read.
Star File: Andy Lau