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January 7th, 2002 Issue #90

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- associate editor / film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

NOTE: The review for GOD OF GAMBLERS 3: THE EARLY STAGE has been excerpted from The Hong Kong Filmography. Information about the DVD edition, written specifically for Hong Kong Digital, follows.

God of Gamblers 3: The Early Stage
(1996; Golden Harvest / BOB & Partners Company / Golden Movies International)

Cover art courtesy Universe.

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Do san 3 chi siu nin do san
Mandarin: Du shen 3 zhi shao nian du shen
English: God of Gamblers 3: The Young God of Gamblers


Gigi Leung Wing-kei. Image courtesy Universe.

Cinematographer: Arthur Wong Ngok-tai
Art Director: Ringo Fung Kai-fai
Music: Peter Kam Pui-tat, Lau Cho-tak, Lam Chi-yeung
Action Directors: Dion Lam Dik-on, Ma Yuk-shing
Writer / Producer / Director: Wong Jing
Cast: Leon Lai Ming (Ko Chun), Anita Yuen Wing-yee (Sister Seven), Jordan Chan Siu-chun (Lone Ng), Gigi Leung Wing-kei (Hing), Francis Ng Chun-yu (Ko Ngo), Chung King-fai (Kent), Cheung Tat-ming (So), Elvis Tsui Kam-kong (Tai-chin), Ng Chi-hung (Mo Kau), Ngai Sing (Wolf), Moses Chan Ho (Soto)
VHS: World Video
Import LD / VCD / DVD: Universe
102 minutes
Also known as LEGEND OF THE GOD OF GAMBLERS (Title for dubbed version)

Leon Lai Ming. Image courtesy Universe.

On paper, this does not sound like a promising project: Leon Lai, a handsome but not especially charismatic actor / singer, playing the legendary Ko Chun in the years prior to the time depicted in the original God of Gamblers. However, give credit to both Lai and writer / director Wong Jing: The resulting film is surprisingly good, and while he may not be Chow Yun-fat, Lai makes for a perfectly acceptable substitute. The film opens in 1969, with the young Chun being purchased by master gambler Kent. The story then switches to 1986, as Chun's future bodyguard, Lone Ng, proves his mettle by single-handedly dispatching eleven attackers. Impressed by his abilities, cocky Sister Seven (who once encountered Chun as a child but hasn't seen him since) hires Lone and the pair meet up with Chun at a card game one night. A "God of Gamblers" competition is going to be held to find the individual qualified to run South East Asia's casinos and Kent chooses Chun over his other two experts, Hing and Ngo, to represent him. Chun is deeply in love with Hing and Ngo openly resents him for it. During the tournament finals, Chun is betrayed and this sets the stage for the sort of classic, high stakes finale these films are famous for.

Anita Yuen Wing-yee (left) and Lai (right). Image courtesy Universe.

Along the way, we see how Chun acquired his jade pinkie ring, why he loves chocolate so much, and why he gels his hair before a match. The requisite twists and turns are satisfying, as is the outcome, which features one of the series' best resolutions. As mentioned, Lai does well by the role but it is Jordan Chan (exuding controlled rage and strength) who walks away with this entry. He's sensational and imbues the part with more physicality than Charles Heung, using martial arts skills and not just guns to take out the enemy. There is one major problem, though: the way Lai and Chan's characters meet here completely contradicts their first encounter in the original film!

Yuen (left) and Jordan Chan Siu-chun (right). Image courtesy Universe.

DVD Specs:

Universe #5022
Dolby Digital 5.1
Cantonese and Dubbed Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles In English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
8 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Stills
Letterboxed (1.85:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
103 Minutes
Contains some brutal violence

DVD menu courtesy Universe.

Film Board Ratings and Consumer Advice

Great Britain: 18
Hong Kong: IIB
Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]


The transfer is a little soft but otherwise passable, with deep colors and decent contrasts. The 5.1 mix is basically wide mono, with occasional separation effects and intermittent widening of the soundstage. There is light speckling throughout on the source print but no major damage. Extras consist of a trailer and Star Files on Leon Lai, Len Len, Jordan Chan, Gigi Leung, and Wong Jing.

Cheung Tat-ming (left) and Len Len (right). Image courtesy Universe.

GOD OF GAMBLERS 3: THE EARLY STAGE is available at Poker Industries.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2002. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

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