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Film / God of Gamblers

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God of Gamblers (赌神) is a 1989 Hong Kong action comedy-drama film written and directed by Wong Jing, and featuring an ensemble cast.

Chow Yun-fat plays Ko Chun, an extremely talented and well known gambler. On the eve of a big confrontation with a famous Singaporean gambler, Ko walks into a trap set by Knife (played by Andy Lau), an avid but a so-so gambler, meant for an Indian servant. Struck on the head, Ko suffers from amnesia and regresses to a child-like state. Knife, not knowing who Ko is, takes him in and gives him a name, the film following the pair's exploits as Knife exploits Ko's gambling ability.

The film would spawn several sequels and spin-offs, notably Stephen Chow's All for the Winner (赌圣). Stephen would later appear in a movie alongside Andy Lau called God of Gamblers II (赌侠) reprising their respective roles. note 

Tropes associated with this work:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: As the poker game in God of Gamblers Returns reaches its final round, Ko Chun and Chau Siu-Chee each wager their own eyeballs.
    • Knowing how high the stakes of the poker game are, prior to the game, Chau Siu-Chee even resorts to employing Cheung Po-Sing's dubious supernatural ability, in order to cheat on the poker game by teleportatively swapping Ko Chun's cards. Little does Chau realize, that in fact Cheung is a mole set up by Ko.
  • Artistic License – Statistics: Needless to say, if we are assuming that Ko Chun doesn't employ his seemingly supernatural ability in changing the face of his poker cards in all his final confrontations, it is pretty ludicrous that he and his opponent are often dealt extremely good poker hands. Not only that, real life professional gamblers take calculated risks in each round and not the risky all-or-nothing bets Ko Chun and his opponent willingly plunges into during each final round. His acts are mostly Rule of Awesome than realistic.
  • Continuity Snarl: God of Gamblers showed that Ko Chun just met his bodyguard Lung Wu for the first time, yet the story was later written such that they established a friendship in the prequel God of Gamblers 3: The Early Stage.
  • Darker and Edgier: God of Gamblers Returns, the "true" sequel featuring Ko Chun is this to the previous films in the God of Gamblers series. Chau Siu-Chee is a much more monstrous antagonist compared to Chan Kam-sing, since Chau is the one who murdered Ko Chun's wife and unborn child while Chan in the first film never had any personal enmity with Ko Chun, and the contrast is even highlighted when Chan lamented to Ko Chun that he lost his entire fortune and his hands to Chau.
  • The Cameo: Michiko Nishiwaki as a heavily tattooed female gambler.
  • Disposable Woman: God of Gamblers, God of Gamblers Returns, and God of Gamblers 3: The Early Stage (Prequel to the first two films) contained particularly egregious examples of this trope. Any woman who Ko Chun loved, or any woman who have a crush on him, WILL ALWAYS die before the final game goes into play, giving him all the reasons for revenge on his opponent, who ALWAYS happened to be responsible for their deaths.
  • Easy Amnesia: Ko Chun's having amnesia from injuries sets up the basis of the first film.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Cheung Po-Sing is the fictional counterpart of Chinese fraudster Zhang Baosheng. Zhang Baosheng was once believed to have supernatural abilities, because of mass-media publicity and scientific illiteracy.
  • Gambit Roulette: Ko Chun is a rare heroic example of The Chessmaster, and his plans in the final game to defeat his opponent always hinges on a lot of specific events that are chance-driven and may not even happen at all - Like the specific cards required for winning a particular round of poker. Suspension of disbelief is required especially for people who are familiar with Black Jack and Poker games.
  • Giant Mook: In the carpark shootout scene of the first movie, Ko Chun and Lung Wu is assaulted by a huge, oversized thug who managed to hold Lung in a bear hug from the back. While Lung manage to kill the big guy with a concealed pistol, the big guy ends up tightening his grip after his death and dragging Lung to the floor as he fell back dead.
  • Guns Akimbo: In classic Hong Kong film fashion, all the leads gets to wield twin pistols in the films - Ko Chun and Lung in the first, and Knife in the sequels after he Took a Level in Badass.
  • Hustling the Mark: Pretty much how Ko Chun always win in his final rounds.
    • God of Gamblers (1989): During a game of poker against Ko Chun, Chan Kam-sing used a special type of glasses to see his opponent's poker cards. Unknown to him, Ko Chun had anticipated this move but pretended to act overconfident with a bluff so when Chan exposed it Ko Chun had no choice but to fold. In the final round, Ko Chun raised the stakes and added a fake spot on his own poker card to trick Chan (Who used the cheating glasses and saw the spot which he believed Ko Chun had an inferior hand) into raising the stakes.
    • God of Gamblers Returns (1994): During a game of poker against Chau Siu-Chee, Ko Chun deliberately loses the first round by pretending that Cheung Po-Sing really changed his poker card to an inferior hand. In the final round, Ko Chun raised the stakes and Chau Siu-Chee took the bait, who still believed that Cheung Po-Sing was on his side.
    • God of Gamblers: The Early Stage (1996): In this example, both opponents used this trick but Ko Chun was one step ahead. During a game of poker against Ko Ngo and other contestants, Ko Chun deliberately folded many times. By the final round, only Ko Chun, Ko Ngo, and the Filipino Gambling King were left. In his hand, Ko Chun "revealed" that he had a particular card that if Ko Ngo swapped with by cheating means, would give Ko Ngo a Royal Flush and therefore the victory. Needless to say, Ko Ngo resorted to the card swapping cheat tactic and raised the stakes. The Filipino Gambling King who had a Full House hand was led to believe that Ko Ngo had a superior hand and folded. When both Ko Chun and Ko Ngo showed hand, the true revelation was that Ko Chun faked that card, so the card swapped did not give Ko Ngo a Royal Flush. This means Ko Chun's low pair hand won, much to the Filipino Gambling King's exasperation.
  • Lighter and Softer: God of Gamblers II (Not to be mistaken with God of Gamblers Returns) and All for the Winner is more light-hearted in comparison to the first film God of Gamblers, in no small part to Stephen Chow's role. Additionally, revenge is not a main motivation for the main characters in these two spin-offs.
  • The Magic Poker Equation: Given the nature of the film, it's not surprising this trope comes into play. The writing even attributes the "pick the best card" to an actual skill.
    • As it is portrayed in the movie, Ko wins the lottery for Big Mouth (a gambling boss) not because of sheer luck but instead because of skill.
    • This was interestingly averted in God of Gamblers: The Early Stage (1996), where Ko Chun won the final round without an amazing poker hand dealt - A low pair hand in fact. He did however trick Ko Ngo into believing that the latter is capable of getting a Royal Flush via cheating means.
  • Manipulating the Opponent's Deck: In the Stephen Chow sequels to the first film, the ludicrous skill and luck of the epynomous protagonist at cards is parodied by the fact that the hands can literally be changed by psychic-powers, either by the player himself or by a psychic in the audience specifically hired to help him cheat. Of course, in the latter case, said unscrupulous psycker can also be potentially bribed by the opposing team to help them get the literal upper hand.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Just about every action is made out to be epic, regardless of whether or not it would be so in Real Life. Look on, ye lesser mortals, as Chow Yun Fat WALKS INTO A ROOM!
  • Professional Gambler: The protagonists are, unsurprisingly given the nature of the work, professional gamblers.
  • Psychic Powers: Sing has several, including but not limited to:
  • Origins Episode: God of Gamblers 3: The Early Stage explains Ko Chun's 3 main characteristics as portrayed in God of Gamblers and God of Gamblers Returns - his slick-backed hairstyle (A promise to his 2nd lover), his love of Feodora brand chocolate (Revenge) and his jade pinky ring (A gift from his 2nd lover).
  • Out-Gambitted: In every final confrontation, the antagonist will resort to cheating in order to win, but no matter what Ko Chun will always be one step ahead of his opponent. It gets ridiculous when you actually think about it and realize that Ko Chun's plans always hinges on a lot of specific events that are chance-driven and may not even happen at all - Like the specific cards required for winning a particular round of poker.
  • Red Baron: The titular God of Gamblers, Ko. Knife would later become known as the Knight of Gamblers, and Sing from All for the Winner would become the Saint of Gamblers.
  • Skeptic No Longer: Initially Chau Siu-Chee is skeptical of supernatural powers and has no thoughts of utilizing it in the upcoming match with Ko Chun, but because of a big rumor about Cheung Po-Sing and because of A-bou's (Chau's ally) testimony of witnessing Ko fearing Cheung and finally after personally seeing Cheung doing magic tricks, then Chau believes Cheung supposedly can teleportatively swap cards.
    • When Chau was first introduced to Cheung, Chau paid his due respect to Cheung by calling Cheung a national treasure of Mainland China supposedly for possessing supernatural abilities, despite that in fact Cheung is Ko's mole.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Ko loves eating chocolate, and chocolate is even the nickname Knife gives him while he has amnesia. Knife himself picks up the chocolate-eating in God of Gamblers II.
  • Worthy Opponent: Lung Wu viewed Ko Chun that way in God of Gamblers 3: The Early Stage when they introduced themselves to each other through a fight.

Alternative Title(s): God Of Gamblers Return