God of Gamblers: The Early Stage

God of Gamblers (1989) developed Chow Yun-fat's screen persona as a boyishly charming but principled man of action; in this 1997 prequel, the fifth God of Gamblers film, pop idol Leon Lai tries to fill Chow's polished shoes, playing the hero as a somber, melancholy orphan trained to psych out his gambling opponents. On the way to a worldwide competition he's betrayed in love and double-crossed at the gaming tables, but he prevails with the help of a soldier of fortune skilled in martial arts (Jordan Chan in a stoic performance) and a gangster's tomboy daughter (Anita Yuen in a giddy star turn). An uneven script is redeemed by Arthur Wong?s glossy photography and director Wong Jing?s pacing, but the film's most memorable sequences are its elaborate gambling ruses and intricately choreographed fights.

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