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The Cheaters
Year: 2001
Jordan Chan and Simon Lui
Director: Billy Chung Siu-Hung
Producer: Ng Kin-Hung
Writer: Pang Ho-Cheung, Chung Shing-Yuen
Cast: Jordan Chan Siu-Chun, Alex Fong Chung-Sun, Sonja Kwok Sin-Nei, Simon Lui Yu-Yeung, Ken Wong Hap-Hei, Chapman To Man-Chat, Hera Lam Bik-Yun, Thomas Lam Cho-Fai, Bonnie Law Ming-Chu, Ng Chi-Hung
The Skinny: Plot holes exist in this conman thriller, but on the whole this is an engaging, well-made genre movie with above average writing and performances. If you can suspend your disbelief, a decent time can be had.
by Kozo:
     Jordan Chan stars as Tin Bo, a confidence man who occasionally works with partners Tong (Ken Wong), Chi-Wai (Chapman To), Elsa (Hera Lam) and Lok (Alex Fong). Despite the fact that Lok and Tin Bo have known each other for twenty-plus years, the two are hardly close. This is due to Lok's belief that con men and trust don't mix, and friendship is something that sholudn't be given out easily. Tin Bo goes along, but it's obvious that he doesn't operate the same way. While Lok seems emotionless and impassive, Tin Bo seemingly enjoys his work and life.
     The five reunite to put together a major con which should net them their largest score yet. They plan to screw bigtime company Tin Kei, but there's a hitch: one of Tin Kei's top executives is Cow (Simon Lui), who's actually a former conman named Lau Yun. Back when Cow was in the game, he was known as The King of Ghosts, and he took mega-millions from various sources. Our group of grifters sense danger, but they figure that Cow will let them slide because they can expose his true identity. Their plan seems foolproof, but things don't go exactly as planned. Tin Bo unwittingly romances the boss' daughter (former Miss HK Sonja Kwok), Cow doesn't seem to want to play along, and worst of all, the group may not be as solid as Tin Bo would like to believe.
     Director Billy Chung's thriller is full of massive plot holes that could house multiple housing developments. The scams and multiple double-crosses require leaps of logic and coincidence that just don't seem possible. Given the various interests involved, the ultimate mastermind would have to be devious AND clairvoyant to get what's desired.
     Still, the film manages to get around the implausibilities with fine pacing (the film clocks in at eighty minutes), a suitable tone and good performances. There are occasional poor music cues, and the slow motion can sometimes induce laughter, but Billy Chung reins in any overdone shtick or silliness. His characters are developed effectively, and the cast does well with the material. Jordan Chan and Alex Fong bring requisite presence to their roles, and Sonja Kwok manages to sell her romance with Chan. Given the screen time alotted to it, you'd think that their affections would feel unlikely, but for some reason (maybe it's chemistry), the two actors get it to work.
     Given Hong Kong Cinema's current state, this movie comes as a bit of a nice surprise. The Cheaters is really nothing more than your standard B-movie potboiler, but it does a decent job with what it's given. (Kozo 2001/2002)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Laser
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
image courtesy of Universe Laser and Video Co., Ltd. Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen