The Return of the God of Gamblers (Du Shen Xu Ji) (1994)

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Released 2-Dec-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 119:11 (Case: 101)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (86:09) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jing Wong
Studio
Distributor
Golden Harvest
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Chow Yun Fat
Charles Heung
Wu Hsing Kuo
Chingmy Yau
Wu Chien Lien
Tony Leung
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Lowell Lo


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Return of the God of Gamblers is the sequel to the original God of Gamblers, both directed by Jing Wong and both starring Chinese heart-throb Chow Yun Fat. Feeling somewhat stereotyped in his Hong Kong cinema roles, this is the last movie Chow Yun Fat made before heading to Hollywood and the directing talents of John Woo amongst others. This is a classic example of the genre - be warned it is fast, furious, violent and politically incorrect. Violence against women, pet animals and police are all part of the deal. Intermingled amongst the gore is slapstick and corny humour and reverence for the 'smart guy'. Not to your taste? Well, it wasn't filmed for an international audience - this was produced for domestic consumption and finds its way onto our shelves as a cult movie. If you don't like it, don't watch it - simple!

    The story is basically straightforward, but contains a number of references to the original and has a twist to the plot which I only picked up on the second viewing. Having made his fortune from his invincibility at the gambling table, Ko Chun (Chow Yung Fat) retires to his estate in France and prepares for the birth of his first child. In the meantime, big shot gambler Mr Chu has died, leaving a fortune of 16 billion to be donated to children's charities - his will specifies that the money is to be administered by 'The God Of Gamblers'. There are two problems with that act of generosity. Firstly, no one is quite sure who the God of Gamblers is, as Ko Chun made a point of never being photographed and secondly the evil Chau Sin Chee (Wa Hsing Kuo) believes himself to be 'The God' and should administer the estate, no doubt for his own evil ends. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Now Chau is a real BAMF and, having failed to lure Ko Chun out of retirement for a deciding match, he breaks into Chun's mansion, slaughters his staff and performs a Caesarean section on his pretty young wife (Sharla Cheung). Needless to say anaesthetic was not administered and the foetus ends up in a jar looking curiously like a pathology museum specimen (which, trust me, it undoubtedly is). With her last dying breaths, Mrs Chun binds Ko Chun to the promise of not seeking revenge or returning to the gambling tables for 1 year.

    One year after his wife's death, Ko Chun is ready to confront his nemesis, Chau and plans to leave France. At a family picnic area he falls in with the triad that Chau is ranked Number 2 in. In a twist of ironic fate, the big boss is slaughtered and Ko Chun is left with the precocious son of the Big Boss Sin Yuen (Tse Miu), whom he has promised to return to the family in Taipei. The rest of the film revolves along the somewhat slapstick journey of Chun back to Taipei and the characters he encounters along the way including the feisty and bolshy Su (Wu Chien Lien) and her brother Siu Fong Fong (Tony Leung) until the final confrontation with Chau.

    It's at times cheesy, at times comic, often violent but never boring - if you like Kung Fu and are not put off by the depicted violence, I would have to say that this is one of the more entertaining Hong Kong action/criminal movies I have seen. Just think of it as the Chinese Godfather.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   Sadly, we've got the rough end of the pineapple for the video transfer. Although it was shot in widescreen, portrayed in the opening credits (1.79:1), we have a 1.33:1 ratio pan and scan version for the film proper. I'm sure Force Video would have loved to have been able to source the widescreen version but there would appear from some Asian websites to be problems associated with Miramax (a Disney subsidiary) and distribution. Anyway, whatever the reason, the end result is a slightly claustrophobic feel - the wide action panoramas really deserved better than a box window. This may well be a direct port from one of the older laserdisc versions - hopefully not the VPS German one which cut many scenes.

    There is a soft focus endemic throughout the film which is really not appropriate for an action genre - I would think it most likely relates to compression but honestly I've seen equal video on bootlegged movies. There's not too much low light action so we have adequate detail with no low level noise.

    The colours were on the drab side and somewhat washed out - probably related to source material.

    There was Gibbs effect and telecine wobble during the opening and closing credits but during the movie the only defects were the presence of aliasing on the French shutters of the mansion. There were fine black and white flecks and the occasional hair throughout the feature but these were tolerable. There was occasional emulsion loss or damage (eg 11:01). There was also an occasional very fine linear scratch visible.

    There were no subtitles.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted with a transition point at 86:09 during a scene change. It is just about undetectable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio isn't going to set the DVD world alight. We have one audio stream in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (not a whisper of a matrix channel) encoded at 224 kbps. There seems to be two different sources for the credits and the main feature - the soundtrack for the credits is tinny and sounds like it has been recorded with a mike off speakers on an analogue tape transport - there's definite flutter there in the brass section. The soundtrack to the movie itself is adequate as we'd expect from the encoding. Foley and other sound effects, including numerous gunshots, are well rendered.

    Well, here we have the worst aspect of the audio transfer - the horrible Chinese English and Chinese French dubs - YUK absolutely bloody horrible. We would have done far, far better to have the original Cantonese, Mandarin & Taiwanese with English subtitles as per Crouching Tiger .... Granted the words are quite intelligible, but it is not a pleasant experience to listen to.

    All I can say about lip sync is that English doesn't go too well into Cantonese. The audio sync seems OK otherwise.

    The music was scored by Lowell Lo and was appropriately cheesy and brash in the relevant places without providing any memorable melody.

    The subwoofer and surrounds died an unnatural death prior to the start of the feature.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    Quite neat playing table and card motif for the menu which was static and in the same video format as the feature.

Theatrical Trailer

    Shows many of the high spots of the movie and lasts 1:46.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

      The Region 4 version of this disc, compared to R1 misses out on:

    The Region 3 release on the Mei Ah label would appear to be the pick of the bunch with:

 

Summary

    Return of the God of Gamblers is a classic of the genre - whether you like it or not is a matter of taste.

    The video quality is so-so and we have been dealt the P&S 1.33:1 version

    The audio quality is pretty ordinary too and we would have been better off with subtitles.

    The extras are limited to the theatrical trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DMR-E20, using RGB output
DisplayPioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V995. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V995
SpeakersB&W 602 front/rear. B&W LRC6 Centre / Solid (AKA B&W) 500 SW

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
The Mei Ah release .... - Richard