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The Conman 2002

"I only like you because the script says so."     "Buy my insurance!"

(left) Nick Cheung and Mango Wong and (right) Stephen Fung in The Conman 2002.

Chinese: 賭俠2002  
Year: 2002

Director: Aman Cheung Man  
Producer: Wong Jing  
Cast: Nick Cheung Ka-Fai, Stephen Fung Tak-Lun, Mango Wong Sau-Lam, Wyman Wong Wai-Man, Wong Yat-Fei, Philip Keung Ho-Man, Monica Lo Suk-Yi, Law Lan, Wong Tin-Lam, Hui Siu-Hung
The Skinny: A tepic update of the God of Gamblers formula from usual suspects Wong Jing and Aman Cheung. Nick Cheung is occasionally amusing, but everything else is less so. Unless you've had a caffeine injection, this film will be sleep-inducing.
by Kozo:

When all else fails, there's always a gambling movie. Wong Jing and buddy Aman Cheung return to the well for the umpteenth spin-off on the God of Gamblers franchise. Following in the more recent trend of Conman flicks, this new one is titled The Conman 2002. However, it has nothing to do with the Andy Lau vehicles The Conman and The Conmen in Vegas, or the Louis Koo flick Conman in Tokyo. The only things that The Conman 2002 has in common with those other (better) films is gambling and Nick Cheung. Let's pray that's enough.

Cheung plays an unlucky bastard named Lee Ka-Sing (after Hong Kong real estate magnate Lee Ka-Sing), who brings bad luck to himself and anyone who's nice to him. After a run of lousy luck puts Lee and pal Stanley Ho (Wyman Wong, who's also sporting an ironic name) in the hospital, things start to look up. Lee meets angelic nurse Summer (new popsinger Mango Wong), who's one of those patently unrealistic film characters. What that means is Summer is incredibly lovely, has a wonderful personality, and actually finds a guy like Nick Cheung attractive. She's also unattached, which is another prime example of fiction at work. Summer and Lee hit it off, but he's worried that his bad luck will affect her.

But, Lee's bad luck powers actually come in handy. Summer's triad brother Spring (Stephen Fung) puts Lee to use as a bad luck magnet in Macau, which screws the odds and allows them to make a bundle. Unfortunately, this attracts the attention of evil bastard Bro 9 (Keung Ho-Man), who wants Lee to work for him. Also, Summer is unhappy with Lee's new gambling occupation, which means that he may lose her. And, worst of all, someone else dubs Stephen Fung's voice, which means he's the only character whose lips don't match his words. Oh, the horror!

The Conman 2002 seems lazy even by Hong Kong standards. While the first third of the film has some amusing slapstick and pratfalls, the rest of the film screeches to an interminable halt. The gambling sequences aren't exactly thrilling, and the comedy is amazingly unfunny. Nick Cheung is a willing and able performer, and at the very least he's not annoying in this film (unlike, say, The Tricky Master). However, an able performance in a lackluster script is like being an all-star on a losing team. And even though he's a competent - and even likable - performer, Nick Cheung is no all-star. He's more like a sixth man.

Still, Cheung is practically the lone bright spot in this movie. Mango Wong is cute, and possesses large eyes like a Japanimation heroine. However, most animated characters are probably more compelling than Wong, whose hackneyed role has "flower vase" written all over it. Faring even worse is Stephen Fung, who was once an up-and-coming Hong Kong actor. Despite getting the film's "cool" role, he's so uninteresting that he probably should have stayed home. Spring is a Knight of Gamblers-type who's quick with the cards and the kung-fu, and Fung doesn't bring any of the requisite charisma to the role. He can smile suavely and glower convincingly, but he's so lightweight that he might as well be made of cardboard.

The overriding emotion that The Conman 2002 leaves is one of utter boredom. The last twenty minutes of the film are a complete snooze-fest, so if you're tired you might as well take a nap. This is not a good movie, though it's also not worthy of excessive dislike. There are other movies which are far more worthy of your animated hatred, like The Wesley's Mysterious File or Cop Shop Babes. The Conman 2002 merely exists in a dull manner, like a tumbleweed or most of Michael Wong's performances. If you choose to ignore the film's shortcomings then you may not mind its obvious mediocrity. Then again, not seeing the film would probably be smarter. (Kozo 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 Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen