God of Gamblers III: Back to Shanghai
AKA: God of Gamblers: The Beginning, Knight of Gamblers II: The Gambling Saint of Shanghai Beach
Director: Wong Jing
Stars: Steven Chow, Ng Man-Tat, Gong Li, Sandra Ng, Ray Lui Leung-Wai, Charles Heung
Steven Chow originally starred in a parody of the first God of Gamblers movie called All for the Winner. The movie was so successful that Wong Jing used Chow (playing the same character as he did in AFTW) in God of Gamblers II along with Andy Lau. Chow had proven so popular in that film that Wong used him solo for this sequel. As David Bordwell says in his book Planet Hong Kong, "Wong Jing hit upon his most successful formula; fittingly, Wong Jing may have swiped the Wong Jing style himself." Basically, what I'm getting at here is that this movie is much more of a typical Steven Chow movie than the previous gambling movies Wong Jing had made.
There are several gambling sequences in the movie, but they seem to be almost side plots, rather than the main impetus. Like most of Chow's movies, the main emphasis here is a slightly dimwitted but ultimately talented guy who manages to fall in love with an unusual woman while down on his luck. For example, in God of Cookery, Chow plays a boasting but talented cook who falls in love with the disfigured Karen Mok while down in skid row after losing his chain of restaurants. In this movie, Chow plays the "Saint of Gamblers," a talented gambler who gets sent back to 1937 Shanghai. He eventually hooks up with his grandpa (who looks mysteriously like "Uncle" Ng Man-Tat), the original "God of Gamblers" (Lui) and his beautiful girlfriend (Li), who happens to have a retarded twin sister -- who, of course, Chow falls in love with.
Like I said, there is a good deal of gambling in the movie -- concerning a Japanese woman (Ng) who wants to take over Lui's club -- but Chow seems more with making goofy faces rather than gambling well. And that's why, for me, this is the worst film of the series. "Worst" is a harsh word, since I still enjoyed the film. But compared with the other films in the series (especially the first) it pales a bit. The jokes aren't Chow's best, there's really no big action sequences, the running time is a bit long, and (most shockingly) there isn't even the usual Wong Jing gratuitous T&A or ultraviolence. Don't get me wrong -- this is a good movie. If you enjoyed the other movies in the series or Wong Jing/Steven Chow films in general, you should enjoy this one also. It just needed a little more punch to set it apart from similar movies and it didn't deliver on that account, but it is a pretty entertaining way to kill some time.
A review of the VCD for this movie can be found here
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