God of Gamblers 2
Hong Kong 1990
Directed by Wong Jing.

Now it gets weird. Stephen Chow reprises his character from All for the Winners, as he meets up with Andy Lau, reprising his character from God of Gamblers, in a sequel to both films. How economical!

Now, it might seem on the face of it that this would be a good movie to watch directly after seeing God of Gamblers. But if you did, you might start wondering what the hell was going on. First off, there's the whole matter of the Stephen Chow character. Who's he? Where did he come from? And why, when he meets Dream Lo (Cheung Man), does he ask if she is Beautiful Dream? Wasn't she the God of Gamblers girlfriend, now deceased, from the first movie? Speaking of the God of Gamblers, where is he?

The reason this is all so confusing is that this film is actually a sequel to both God of Gamblers and the parody of that film, All for the Winner. You will need to have seen both for this film to make any kind of sense. It's actually quite economical, in a way, to have one sequel for two movies. Over here in the states we constantly ask for that kind of sequel, for a "Jason vs. Freddie" movie or an "Aliens vs. Predator," but Hollywood never delivers. Some combined sequels I would like to see include the sequel to "Yentl" and "Alien" combined, in which the Funny Girl disguises herself as a boy to enter religious training, when suddenly the Rabbi's chest rips open and an Alien starts killing all of her classmates. And the sequel to "Saving Private Ryan" and "Face/Off," in which it would turn out that Ryan's face was actually switched with Hitler's, who is now living large in the states, until the real Ryan comes to get his face back.

There's another funny thing about this sequel. Chow Yun-Fat isn't in it. He did later make a sequel to God of Gamblers, called God of Gamblers Returns. Unfortunately, it is also called God of Gamblers 2 on some versions, distinguished from this movie by a "2" instead of the roman numeral "II" in the title.

So our cast for this movie consists of Sing Chi(Stephen Chow) and Uncle Tat(Ng Man-Tat) from All for the Winner, Little Knife(Andy Lau) and Big Mouth from God of Gamblers, an assortment of supporting players from both films, and Cheung Man, playing a different character from the ones she played in either of the prior films. Now that we've got that straightened out, the story itself is very straightforward.

A year has passed since the God of Gamblers asked Little Knife to be his new partner. Knife is following in his master's footsteps and rapidly rising in the gambling world, becoming so successful that he is dubbed, "The Knight of Gamblers." However, The God of Gamblers has issued very strict instructions to him that 95% of his winnings must go to charity, so although he is winning big money, he remains poor. Apparently the God of Gamblers likes to be the only one who gets rich off gambling. No wonder his last partner wanted to kill him. The God of Gambler's associates lend Knife a beautiful house to live in, the very same house he dreamed of owning in the first film. He is protected there by Loong Ng(Charles Heung), playing the same bodyguard character as he did in God of Gamblers but with a different name.

It's been almost six months since Sing Chi competed in the international gambling contest at the end of All for the Winner. He and Uncle Tat are poor because he vowed to never use his magical powers for monetary gain, but only to do good deeds. They decide to visit the God of Gamblers, who they hope will take Sing Chi on as a disciple and teach him his secrets. He takes on the moniker of the "Saint of Gamblers." When they attempt to see the God of Gamblers, he isn't around, and instead they must convince Little Knife to introduce them to the master when he returns. All of our heroes are hanging around the bungalow when an army of men, led by Mr. Chan's son-in-law, Hussein, attack them to gain revenge for the humiliation and imprisonment of Mr. Chan by Ko Chun in God of Gamblers. Hussein pretends that he is the true disciple of Ko Chun, and everything culminates once again on a gambling boat in international waters, where the Knight and Saint of gamblers attempt to uphold the honor of the God of Gamblers, though I imagine if Ko Chun was worried about it he could have done it himself.

Sing Chi's powers have grown since we have seen him last. Not only can he see through things, he can also see long distances, make himself invisible, and cause people to hallucinate, among other things. Skill and experience becomes irrelevant during these gambling competitions, as each player demonstrates who has the coolest magical power. Hussein, in the meantime, is to be despised because he uses an elaborate computer and camera strategy to cheat at cards. It seems as though he's just trying to even out the playing field, if you ask me. Hussein also hires a special powers expert from the mainland to offset Sing Chi's advantage. While the mainlander and Sing Chi use their magical powers to make each other have hallucinations about Tsui Hark's Swordsman II, Hussein and Knife have duelling Chow Yun-Fat impersonations, complete with chocolate and hair gel.

There isn't much going on in this movie. Not a whole lot of plot, not a lot of drama, not much in the way of character development. But it does have Stephen Chow and Andy Lau sharing the spotlight, and doing it well. I never got the feeling they were trying to outdo each other, but that they were both comfortable in the roles they were given to play. They worked well together, with Andy Lau being the straight man to Stephen Chow's small man comedy. We understand their eventual affinity with each other because they are both small men, standing in the shadow of the omnipresent God of Gamblers. This is one of those sequels that are made because everyone likes the characters, but no one has anything specific to do with them. So, they make a movie anyway, and you hang out together with the characters for a little while. The Lethal Weapon movies are a good example of this kind of pointless sequel (Although perhaps a more accurate example would be a Lethal Weapon movie in which Mel Gibson decided not to participate, so they got Leslie Nielson instead).

But is the film as pointless as it seems? Is it, rather, a parable...of the Gulf War? Consider the evidence. Our villain's name is Hussein. The rich Indian man from God of Gamblers is back, and we learn that he isn't from India at all -- he's from Kuwait. No wonder he didn't understand Hindi when Ko Chun talked to him in the first film! He lost all his money when Saddam invaded. Later, we see him leaving Hong Kong to go fight for his people, inspiring Sing Chi and Little Knife not to give up. And...and...the international gambling boat represents the neutrality of the UN in the face of American agression...the cards on the gambling table represent soldiers in the war...one-eyed Jack! Oh, the humanity! The dice have exploded like Vulcan cruise missiles, the villain dreams of dancing among the burning Kuwaiti oil fields! Pointless, parable, or both, I leave it to you to decide.

Rating: Marginally Recommended (Marginally Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on March 31, 2004.

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