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Mr. & Mrs. Gambler
Mr. and Mrs. Gambler

Fiona Sit and Chapman To get hitched in Mr. & Mrs. Gambler.
Chinese: 爛賭夫鬥爛賭妻  
Year: 2012
Director: Wong Jing
Assoc. Dir.: Lee Kung-Lok
Writer: Wong Jing
Cast: Chapman To Man-Chat, Fiona Sit Hoi-Kei, Law Kar-Ying, Wen Chao, Harriet Yeung Sze-Man, Michelle Hu, Philip Ng Won-Lung, Bonnie Wong Man-Wai, Mimi Chu Mi-Mi, Hui Siu-Hung, King Kong, Matthew Chow Hoi-Kwong, Zuki Lee Si-Pui, Yuen Cheung-Yan, Maria Cordero, Elena Kong Mei-Yi, Shu Xiaoxiao
The Skinny: As uncreative and crass as any Wong Jing film, Mr. & Mrs. Gambler is also an amusing commercial comedy with some surprising if not too mean-spirited laughs. Better get used to Chapman To and Fiona Sit because they'll be appearing in a lot of movies together this year.
 
Review
by Kozo:

It’s called Mr. & Mrs. Gambler but it’s not really a gambling film. Directed by Wong Jing (assisted again by “executive director” Lee Kung-Lok), this Canto comedy stars Chapman To and Fiona Sit as compulsive gamblers who meet and go through messy relationship issues concerning but not entirely related to their love of gambling. As he explains in very forthcoming voiceover, Shu Qi (Chapman To, not playing the award-winning actress) is an irresponsible bloke who’s only content if he’s betting on horses, cards or football matches – and he’s so gambling-addicted that even a beating or two won’t dissuade him.

Shu Qi and female counterpart Flora (Fiona Sit) meet in fiery fashion when the two fight over a taxi cab – on their way to betting at the racetrack, naturally - but their enmity is laced with the spark of attraction. The initial meeting becomes serendipity when the two meet again and again, attraction giving way to love and a shared passion for high-stakes gambling. Marriage and even a child arrive, and the film goes into story overdrive, with years passing and differing professions and romantic rivals getting in the way. With divorce and a broken home threatening them, will Shu Qi and Flora recall their salad days of insatiable, self-destructive gambling in time to save their marriage?

Beneath its high concept, Mr. & Mrs. Gambler has relatable themes, e.g., what happens when distance and separate goals get in the way of a blissful marriage and a happy home. Likewise, the film takes a minor look at children reared by parents who are gambling addicts. Obviously, gambling is not as cool a deal as Shu Qi would make it out to be, and with family and the future on the line, he and Flora should probably delete their bookies' contact numbers from their phones. Mr. & Mrs. Gambler offers occasional drama on these themes, but whatever sincerity exists is undone by ham-handed moralizing and glib development. Serious emotions in a Wong Jing movie? Unconvincing, obviously.

No matter, because Mr. and Mrs. Gambler shores up its lazy plot, copious voiceover and unconvincing drama with plenty of hee-haws. Like many a Wong Jing creation, the film aims for laughs by having its characters berate each other incessantly, but Mr. & Mrs. G takes that a step further with colorful swearing and some surprising crassness. The jokes sometimes can be mean-spirited or dark (e.g., references to suicide, spousal abuse), but the actors poke plenty of fun at themselves, too. Jokes about Fiona Sit’s flat chest and Chapman To’s penis size abound, and the two actors seem to be having fun with their playful and not-so-playful sparring. In particular, one key argument is funny because it’s half in Cantonese and half in English.

The film’s in-jokes add another layer of humor. Wong Jing brings back an old standby character, pretentious director and Wong Kar-Wai parody Wong Jing-Wai (played here by Matthew Chow). Midway through the film Shu Qi goes from dopey nobody to internationally-renowned actor, and is cast in a spoof of Wong Kar-Wai's upcoming The Grandmasters. Naturally, the filmmakers poke fun at Grandmasters' never-ending production, and Matt Chow racks up the giggles with his own gleeful take on the self-important, self-involved and completely clueless auteur stereotype. Wong Jing even laughs at himself, with Shu Qi mentioning that Wong is a director with "no substance." Hey, Wong Jing isn’t that bad! If nothing else, he seems to get that the best humor often comes with some truth.

Mr. & Mrs. Gambler could be improved with better pacing to smooth over the draggy maudlin scenes, but overall this is a fun commercial exercise that's better than many of Wong Jing's recent efforts. Not that we should really expect that much from Wong Jing. He is, after all, a populist filmmaker with an eye firmly aimed at the bottom line. He doesn’t take risks or offer any innovation, and his films are frequently designed to make their meager budgets back before they enter cinemas. This film fits that safe, creatively undemanding mold - but hey, many classics of Hong Kong Cinema did too, and we still like those movies, don’t we? All things considered, enjoying Mr. and Mrs. Gambler for the crass and undemanding comedy it is qualifies as a no-brainer. (Kozo 2012)

 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Kam & Ronson Enterprises Co Ltd
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 6.1 / DTS ES
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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