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Issue #172a HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES August 11th, 2003

Casino Raiders
(1989; Golden Harvest/Win's Movie Production)

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

Cantonese: Ji juen mo seung
Mandarin: Zhi zun wu shuang
English: Most Respected, No Superior

Many believe it was Wong Jing's GOD OF GAMBLERS that ignited the late 80s/early 90s gambling movie craze in HK but this popular production (co-helmed and co-written by Wong and Jimmy Heung Wah-sing) actually predated it by six months and is a better movie in most respects. Master gamblers Sam Law (Alan Tam Wing-lun) and Crab Chan (Andy Lau Tak-wah) are reunited when the latter is released from jail. The pair head to America, where Sam helps a casino manager (Charles Heung Wah-keung) nail some Japanese sharks (including the ubiquitous Lung Fong) that have won over $60 million from the establishment in just two weeks. While there, Sam meets beautiful heiress Tong Koyan (Idy Chan Yuk-lin) and uses a rather elaborate practical joke to help win her favor. Unfortunately, the Japanese hire men to get revenge and, in the process of saving Sam's life, Crab's left hand gets slashed, effectively ending his days as a lightning-fast con artist. After a further attempt on his life, Sam accepts an offer tabled to him by Koyan's father: Sam will receive a job in his company, if he agrees to leave his life of crime behind him. Unable to support himself and unwilling to take money from Sam, Crab challenges the Japanese gangsters to a high stakes game but Sam refuses to go to the match with him. Crab swindles his opponents out of their money and the Japanese retaliate by kidnapping Koyan, setting the stage for multiple tragedies.

Darker than most of the imitations it spawned, CASINO RAIDERS is closer in tone to the gangster films being produced at this time in the way it mixes melodramatic plotting with strong male bonding and acrobatic gunplay. Alan Tam and Andy Lau both deliver solid performances and the big game finale is enjoyably tense, with a surprising denouement. However, some viewers may be put off by the brutality directed towards women here, something that Wong Jing's work has often been criticized for. Actor/director Che-Kirk Wong Chi-keung gives a typically colorful turn as a crooked cop, and Rosamund Kwan Chi-lam, Eddy Ko Hung, Shum Wai, Ronald Wong Pan, Robin Shou Wan-bo, and Godfrey Ho regular Mike Abbott also appear in support. CASINO RAIDERS II and NO RISK, NO GAIN: CASINO RAIDERS THE SEQUEL have no direct connection to this production.

Cover art courtesy Universe.

Andy Lau (left) and Alan Tam. Image courtesy Universe.

Lung Fong. Image courtesy Universe.
Universe #5295 (Hong Kong label)

Dolby Digital 5.1

Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks (both post-synced)

Optional Subtitles in English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)

8 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With Clips

Letterboxed (1.90:1)

Coded for ALL Regions

NTSC Format

124 minutes

Contains brutal violence and coarse language

DVD menu courtesy Universe.

Great Britain: 18 [Passed With Cuts totalling 56 seconds]
Hong Kong: IIB
Ontario: R (Violence)
Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]

The original HK theatrical version reportedly runs 124 minutes but the ERA laserdisc (which is choppy in spots and has no opening or closing credits) is only 114 minutes. Universe's DVD clocks in at 124 but, alas, the image is soft and bland, with light hues and weak contrasts. Also, a low bit rate has been utilized in order to cram the movie on to a single layer, resulting in occasional smearing and displacement. The 5.1 track is fairly well-handled, adding some dimension and separations to what was a pretty basic mix originally. Star Files on Andy Lau and Alan Tam are the only extras.

is available at Poker Industries.

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