Yun-fat is one of the biggest Hong Kong movie stars ever, especially when he
plays a gambler. His latest Mr. Lucky character is quite a team player,
assisting the Hong Kong, Chinese, and Macanese police take down an
international money launderer. However, it might suddenly become difficult to watch
on the Mainland following Chow’s statement of support for Hong Kong’s intrepid pro-democracy
protestors. Even if he is banned in Chinese cinemas, Chow is an icon of HK
cinema, perhaps even more so now. Fittingly, his latest gambling romp, Wong
Jing’s From Vegas to Macau (trailer here), opens the San
Francisco Film Society’s annual Hong Kong Cinema film series.
Hands” Ken is a reportedly unbeatable gambler and former Vegas casino security
expert who has just made a splashy return to Macau. He invites his old crony
Benz, the patriarch of a family of conmen, to his lavish birthday partner.
Sparks soon fly between Ken’s daughter Rainbow and Benz’s son cool, despite nephew
Karl’s awkward attempts at seduction.
Benz’s undercover cop stepson Lionel’s cover is about to be blown. He was
investigating the shadowy Mr. Ko, whose henchmen are now looking for the
evidence he furtively recorded. That will bring them into conflict with Benz’s
family and Magic Hands, in due turn. Naturally, he prefers to handle such
matters alone, but he will start to coordinate somewhat with Lionel’s Chinese
colleague, Det. Luo Xin, for obvious reasons.
FVTM, Chow is a lot like vintage Burt
Reynolds. He is having fun and he does not care how we take that. He still
looks great in a tux, so more power to him. He definitely does his
ring-a-ding-ding Rat Pack thing, leaving most of the fighting to Nicholas Tse’s
brooding Cool. Tse doesn’t mug—period. However, Chow’s larger than life
presence still provides the film’s jet fuel.
Tian shows off her first class chops again as Luo Xin, but does not have the
same featured spotlight that let her elevate Special I.D. above its functional ambitions. She makes an
impression nonetheless as the hard-charging detective. While most of the comedy
is broad but digestible, Chapman To gets a wee bit shticky as Karl, but he has
also been rather outspoken in his support of the democracy movement, so we’ll
give him a pass anyway.
keeps the mood upbeat and the action skipping along, even though some pretty
terrible tribulations befall several supporting characters. He also gives enough
winking allusions to the God of Gamblers franchise
to keep fans amused, before formally joining them together in a Marvel-style
FVTM certainly delivers the expected quota of
action, slapstick, high living, and attractive cast members. Frankly, it ought
to be an utterly apolitical film, but given the predictable invective aimed at
Chow, patrons can feel strangely good about enjoying it. Recommended for fans
of Chow and gambling/con game films, From
Vegas to Macau opens the SFFS’s 2014 Hong Kong Cinema showcase this Friday
(11/14) and screens again on Saturday (11/15).
Labels: Chow Yun-fat, Gambling films, HK Cinema at SFFS '14, Hong Kong Cinema, Jing Tian, Nicholas Tse