The above list of Stephen Chow movies was scribbled down in an incredibly short amount of time by Martin Wong after a Q&A that the two editors of Giant Robot (Martin Wong and Eric Nakamura) did when they came to Chicago last April. Somehow I managed to both hold on to this scrap of paper and not get this short list up here until now, but I still feel like these movies are worth checking out, so…
Stephen Chow is most famous in America for Kung Fu Hustle, but he isn’t as big of a deal here as he should be. I hadn’t seen much of anything that he had done, but saw God Of Gamblers II a few months prior, so I asked Martin if he had any recommendations. What you see above is what he provided. A lot of these movies are pretty hard to get in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to find. If worse comes to worse, you can always go to yesasia.com.
Keep in mind that just because this list was written on a random envelope as fast as possible doesn’t mean that you can’t take these recommendations seriously.
Giant Robot features Stephen Chow in their 53rd issue. Just sayin’.
From the purposefully nonsensical reactions to the spliced-in footage of Chow Yun-Fat from the first God of Gamblers, this movie revels in its own absurdity. God Of Gamblers II is definitely something I wish I saw ages ago, though I very well might not have been able to appreciate it as much I did last night. Straying from aiming to be purely a guilty pleasure, this car wreck of a movie fearfully crosses its fingers in hope that you’ll laugh until your eyes bleed and fully ponder its (attempted) virtuous overtones. No part of me bled while watching this, and the honorable acts of Stephen Chow and the rest of the cast weren’t what I was thinking about at all. Instead I kept thinking, “Rewind that! What just happened?” Then upon a second viewing exclaim something to the effect of, “Why would that even happen?! That doesn’t even make sense!” while a friend of mine (that braved through the whole thing with me) exchanged puzzled and amused looks.
The subtitles aren’t the only culprit here either. They’re not atrocious, though I’m surprised that this has been commercially released in America (or at least commercially available). I don’t even know how it ended up in the store that I bought it from. My point is that even though the subtitles are just flat out wrong or incoherent in some places, there’s no way that what’s being said is being translated incorrectly. Given the context, it ridiculousness makes perfect sense; quite often for comedic effect. For example, punch lines often appearing with little to no set up, yet still being funny.
God Of Gamblers II doesn’t spiral into the realm of being purely experimental though; in fact it easily stays within the bounds of what someone would expect from a comedy that has some level of action in it. The part that’s so baffling is how they worked in so much random, humorless sludge throughout the whole thing. I say “humorless” because quite a bit of the gags aren’t funny, but ironically, that’s what makes those gags so great. Calling this a “screwball comedy” wouldn’t quite describe with this movie, but it’s not far off. I even got half way through this before thinking, “No wonder…it’s the same guy that was in (and directed) Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle.
I’m not sure what I was expecting…I guess maybe half Hard-Boiled half Casino? I’m not exactly sure. Let me just say that I was pleasantly surprised. However, had I seen this trailer first, I’m sure my level of amused confusion wouldn’t have been the same.
(So much trombone, so many inappropriately placed “boing” sound effects…)
In short, God Of Gamblers II is light on the gunfights and action sequences and heavy on the gambling showdowns and total nonsense.