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Issue #196a HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES January 26th, 2004

King Gambler
(1976; Shaw Brothers)

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

Cantonese: Do wong dai pin guk
Mandarin: Du wang da pian ju
English: Gambling King's Big Con

The Sha family have long been known as China's greatest gamblers and creators of the art's most amazing tactics of deception. When a Sha man (Wang Hsia) demonstrates his skills to win a game of mahjong, would-be God of Gamblers Peng Tianshi (Chen Kuan-tai) determines to get even. Ten years later, Peng (aka "Card Tyrant") has risen to the top of the gambling world and has his men blind Sha in retribution. The man's student, Sha Tong (Tsung Hua), swears vengeance and undertakes a plan with his two partners (Fan Mui-sang and Wang Chung). Once they have acquired a big enough bankroll, the men consult with various other Sha family members, who use their skills and diverse strategic backgrounds to come up with a series of schemes to drain Peng's assets and cause dissension. When the time is right, Sha Tong faces off against his adversary in a game of Show Hand, a prelude to a second, high-stakes match on New Year's Eve.

Some of the deceptions leading up to The Big Game are absurdly elaborate but, as always, that is part of the fun. Director Ching Kong (THE TWELVE GOLD MEDALLIONS) directs in a more sober fashion than genre figurehead Wong Jing would in later years and Tsung Hua does not make for a very interesting or credible hero. However, this is a dependably entertaining premise and the execution is sound, bolstered by a terrific cast of Shaw regulars, including Ku Feng (image), Ling Yun, Wong Yue, Chan Shen, and Terry Liu Hui-ru. Interestingly, as presented on the DVD, KING GAMBLER concludes with a lame square-up scene intended to convince local censors that the film is not a promotion of gambling as a legitimate lifestyle choice. However, unless the sound master for this bit was lost or otherwise unusable, it was evidently not included on original Cantonese prints, as all of the dialogue and background noises have been newly created (the voice actors sound nothing like the ones on the original track). The Mandarin track is unaffected.

Cover art courtesy Intercontinental.

Chen Kuan-tai. Image courtesy Intercontinental.
Intercontinental #101205 (Hong Kong label)

Dolby Digital 2.0

Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks (both post-synced)

Optional Subtitles in English, Traditional Chinese, Malaysian, and Indonesian

12 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With Clips

Enhanced for 16:9 Displays

Letterboxed (2.35:1)

Coded for Region 3 Only

NTSC Format

119 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Contains mild violence

DVD menu courtesy Intercontinental.

Australia: M 15+
Ontario: PG
Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]


Once again, Celestial has delivered a crisp, clean, and colorful picture, and the mono sound is fine. Also, once again, they have provided the standard extras: promo spots, two photo galleries, "production notes," and bios/filmographies.

KING GAMBLER is available at Poker Industries.

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