The Saint of Gamblers

I imagine that the idea of Ng Man-Tat, Eric Kot and Natalis Chan all appearing in the same film together is a painful thought to a lot of people. I know some people that would probably prefer having nails hammered into their hands than go through 90-minutes of this threesome. Hammering is a good analogy for their method of acting – subtlety is not part of their vocabulary – as they hit the audience continuously over the head with their eye popping facial expressions, their physical eye poking comedy and their verbal assaults. It’s like being caught in a comedic tornado – pulled and pushed in fifty directions – with no logic and no pattern – just go wherever the tornado takes you. Much of this comedy is childishly bad – but within the chaos there are some lovely moments of absurdity.
And where there is pain, there can also be pleasure. The pleasure comes in the voluptuous and salivating forms of Chingmy Yau and Diana Pang Dan. Both of them look like a big, cold drink of water to a very thirsty man. Chingmy is all softness and curves while Pang Dan camps it up to the max as a cold hearted sexually attired seductress.
This film is part of the gambling series of films produced by Wong Jing (God of Gamblers) – who was greatly responsible for the popularity of this genre. By 1995 this genre was sagging a bit and so for good measure, Jing throws in elements of the Shaolin kid genre that was quite popular at the time and even some scenes reminiscent of the video game segment in City Hunter.
The opening scene shows pictures of previous great gamblers in the series – Chow Yun Fat, Stephen Chow and Andy Lau – but times have changed – and this film (completely comedic in nature) has as its protagonist – Eric Kot. Not exactly sleek or elegant or debonair – in fact Kot is the total opposite – a bit chunky, a total rube and about as debonair as a hot dog with all the fixings - but he is the hero of this film.

It begins with Ng Man-Tat (who is seemingly playing the same character he did in Stephen Chow’s All for the Winner) visiting a small town in the Mainland and looking for his next gambling genius to make his living off. Everyone in this town has some sort of supernatural power it seems. After testing all the villagers to see who can change a King into an Ace (one fellow can do this – but first he has to eat it and then let nature take its way – not very convenient in a game of cards!), he settles on Kot. Kot looks and talks as if he is somewhat retarded – but he can make things bigger (he offers to make Ng’s penis as big as a watermelon!) and he can read minds as long as he is touching that person.

So they go back to HK where they soon run into Ray Thai (Ben Lam), his girlfriend Chingmy and her young brother who is a kung-fu demon. In the opening scene, the kid takes on a bunch of adults and beats them senseless with a deck of cards and a few well placed kicks - while Chingmy performs a few nifty moves as well in her "God of Gamblers Returns" mode. Ray Thai is entered into the World Championship of Gambling against some tough opposition – the kind that kills if it has to – and so he decides that Kot would make the perfect diversion or fall guy and gets him into the Championship as well. Kot immediately falls for the chewable Chingmy.
The main opponent in the gambling competition is the Mata Hari like siren from Thailand – Pang Dan – who dresses alluringly and defeats her rivals with hypnosis and vast amounts of distracting cleavage. Though she only has perhaps fifteen minutes of screen time, Pang Dan makes them all count.
Silly only begins to describe this film – funny? – well, I would not go that far – but if you think you can pass the endurance test of Kot and Ng Man-Tat (take an aspirin prior to viewing) – the film does have some interesting and amusing scenes – and a nice extended cameo from Donnie Yen as an Interpol agent that includes a few of his famous high jumping kicks.


My rating for this film: 6.0