Issue #228         HOME          E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com        BACK ISSUES          September 6th, 2004

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God of Gamblers III: Back to Shanghai
(1991; Win's Movie Production/Samico Films Production Co.)

Cantonese: Do hap II seung hoi taan do sing
Mandarin: Du xia II shang hai tan du sheng
English: Knight of Gamblers II: The Gambling Saint of Shanghai Beach

RATING: 8/10

REVIEW:

A wonderful send-up of both BACK TO THE FUTURE and the classic "Shanghai Beach" TV series (which made stars out of Chow Yun-fat and Ray Lui Leung-wai; the latter reprises his role here), this remains one of Stephen Chiau Sing-chi’s best outings. Following his humiliating defeat in the previous film, Mainland gambling master Tai-kun (John Ching Tung) and his men try to murder Sing (Chiau) and Tat (Ng Man-tat). They fail but, after Sing engages in a psychic duel with Tai-kun, the pair disappear in a burst of energy and Sing finds himself in 1937 Shanghai. There, he meets Tat's effeminate grandfather, Chow Tai-fook (also Ng), and Ding Lik (Lui), the powerful crimelord and confederate of the late Hui Man-keung. Sing accidentally kills Tiger Lui (the gangster who had murdered Hui the night before), earning him the favor of Ding, who is being challenged by another competitor, Wong Kam-kwai (Lung Fong). Sing falls head over heels for beautiful socialite Yu-san (Gong Li) but it is actually her twin sister, Yu-mong (who has the IQ of a five year old, and is also played by Gong), that he ends up dating. Wong allies himself with a Japanese VIP (Wong Wan-si) in a plot to seize Ding's casino, using their secret weapon: Tai-kun. Sing is able to save the day but a re-match is announced and the opposition produces a weapon that even Sing may not be able to counter: the legendary French God of Gamblers.

Stephen Chiau Ray Lui (center) Gong Li (left), Stephen Chiau

"Shanghai Beach" (or The Bund, as it is officially known in English) is not available with English subtitles, so Western viewers will not be able to appreciate most of the references to it here. Regardless, much of the humor is readily accessible and the production design and costumes are gorgeous, making the silly goings-on all the more enjoyable. The twins subplot is overly contrived but it is great fun watching Gong Li romping through the scenery as the dim-witted, but ever-smiling, Yu-mong (she would appear again opposite Chiau two years later in FLIRTING SCHOLAR). Writer/director Wong Jing adheres well enough to the doctrines of time travel movies, incorporating some wonderful anachronisms (Sing has a cell phone with him and can call people in the present and there is a terrific musical parody of McDonalds' restaurants), and the ending delivers the sort of twist that makes the best of these gambling films so satisfying. Writer/actor Barry Wong Ping-yiu appears briefly in a hilarious reprise of his cement-headed cop character from the FIGHT BACK TO SCHOOL films. The terrific supporting cast also includes Sandra Ng Kwan-yu, Charles Heung Wah-keung, Tien Feng, Shaw Brothers veteran Yeung Ching-ching (as Ding's tough but lovely bodyguard), Peter Chan Lung, Lau Shun, and Billy Chow Bei-lee. Wong Jing and Sharla Cheung Man also have fitting cameos.

Ng Man-tat (left), Sandra Ng Gong Li Stephen Chiau (left), Ng Man-tat


PRESENTATION:

As with GOD OF GAMBLERS II (reviewed in issue #227a), this premiered on DVD in a low-grade version culled from the early ‘90s laserdisc master. Aside from some DVNR jitter and an occasional speckle, this new HD rendition looks good, nicely preserving Peter Pau Tak-hei’s cinematography (which displays more care than is usually evident in Wong Jing’s movies). The original mono mixes are included, along with a 5.1/DTS re-vamp of the Cantonese version only. The re-mix adds scattered channel separations but usually remains faithful to the original. There are no extras beyond Mei Ah’s pointless Data Bank feature.

This DVD is available at:

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.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC Region 0
  • Mei Ah Entertainment #DVD-660
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0/DTS
  • Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional & Simplified Chinese
  • 9 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (1.80:1)
  • 116 Minutes

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Australia: M 15+
  • Great Britain: 15
  • Hong Kong: II
  • Ontario: R
  • Quebec: G
  • Singapore: PG
  • Contains moderate violence, coarse language, and some crude content

FILM REVIEW RATINGS KEY:

  • 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