Issue #202a           HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES             March 8th, 2004

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God of Gamblers
(1989; Win's Movie Production)

Cantonese: Dao san
Mandarin: Du shen
English: God of Gamblers


RATING: 6/10


Following the success of CASINO RAIDERS (issue #172a), writer/director Wong Jing concocted this equally successful vehicle, which features one of Chow Yun-fat's most popular characters. Master gambler Ko Chun (Chow) is known among his peers as the only unbeatable player to be found in the world. At the behest of a Japanese competitor, Chun agrees to face off against the villainous Singapore gambler Chan Kam-shing (Pau Hon-lam), who is wanted by so many countries, he can only compete in international waters. Before this match can take place, Chun has an accident and bashes his head. Taken in by small-time conman Knife (Andy Lau Tak-wah) and his girlfriend, Jane (Joey Wang Tsu-hsien), Chun now suffers from amnesia and has the mentality of a child. He has not, however, lost his impeccable gambling skills, as Knife soon discovers. The pair proceed to clean out the local dens and Chun becomes known as "The Retarded King of Gamblers." However, when one of Knife's schemes goes awry, a not-totally functioning Chun must be enlisted to save him. Meanwhile, Chun's less than ethical underling (Lung Fong) has laid claim to his absent boss' woman (Sharla Cheung Man) and wealth. Unless Chun returns to normal quickly, he will lose everything.

Chow Yun-fat Chow Yun-fat Andy Lau Tak-wah

As one can surmise from the synopsis, this is essentially RAIN MAN embellished with additional comedy and some terrific gunplay. Much of the film is only mildly amusing at best but Chow Yun-fat commands the screen no matter what he is doing, giving the proceedings a major boost. The climactic card game is beautifully mounted and concludes with the sort of ingenious twist that helped make this genre so popular with HK audiences. Followed by a sequel (GOD OF GAMBLERS' RETURN, reviewed in issue #189), a prequel (GOD OF GAMBLERS 3: THE EARLY STAGE, see issue #90), some vaguely related follow-ups, and a multitude of imitations. Wong Jing has a small (but characteristic) role during a bordello scene, and Shing Fui-on, Ng Man-tat, Ronald Wong Pan, Michiko Mishiwaki, Michael Chow Man-kin, Dennis Chan Kwok-san also appear.


For such a popular film, GOD OF GAMBLERS has fared remarkably poorly on video. The Mei Ah laserdisc was a terrible fullscreen transfer that frequently cropped the English subtitles off the bottom of the screen. On top of that, the film was shortened by approximately 10 minutes so that it would fit onto a single CLV platter. Naturally, it was this rotten version that the company first released on DVD. A UK PAL edition of the movie was reportedly better but not much. Thankfully, this new 16:9 presentation finally gives the movie the showcase collectors have longed for. The image looks remarkably sharp and only the most minor wear is present. The film does not look as slick as its 1994 sequel and minor digital video noise reduction jitter is usually in evidence but this remains a dramatic improvement and a satisfying effort.

Ng Man-tat and Joey Wang Tsu-hsien Lung Fong Pau Hon-lam

GOG was originally mixed in mono and that track is included, along with an amped up Cantonese version in Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS (which I am unable to monitor). The new track is generally good, with Lowell Lo Kwun-ting's score benefitting the most, and a worthy inclusion. Alas, the English subtitle translation has not been noticeably improved, with numerous errors and much needless paraphrasing. The menu design utilizes the same overly elaborate approach as seen on the remastered GOD OF GAMBLERS' RETURN and, for some reason, it appears in squeezed fullscreen, instead of 1.78 (presumably an encoding error). Also included are the original trailer (a fullscreen rendition that is the way the feature used to look), a brief subtitled interview with Wong Jing that is also included with the 16:9 edition of the sequel, and Mei Ah's useless Data Bank feature. The DVD comes packaged in a cardboard outer sleeve.

Images in this review courtesy of Mei Ah. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.

DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC -- Region 0
  • Mei Ah Entertainment #DVD-570
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0, DTS Cantonese and Mandarin Language (both post-synced)
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional & Simplified Chinese
  • 8 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (1.78:1)
  • 126 Minutes

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Australia: M 15+
  • Great Britain: 18
  • Hong Kong: IIB
  • Ontario: R
  • Quebec: 13+
  • Singapore: PG (cut)
  • Contains brutal violence


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful