(Nick Cheung), a soft hearted man saves a sexy but amnesic KungFu
master, Ying Ying (Natalie Meng), who is also a maestro in gambling.
Ying Ying knows everything from mahjong to horse racing. Gerrard
soon falls for her and proposes to her successfully. But, Ying
Ying disappeared on their wedding eve to join the Asian God
of Gamblers Competition, and discovers she already has a fiancé...
Hong Kong cinema has been on a decline in recent
years and Wong Jing’s latest directorial effort, My
Wife Is a Gambling Maestro, is an apt testament to this sad
known for his God of Gamblers trilogy, Wong Jing’s movies
of late betray a number of lazy consistent patterns which
essentially characterize this movie. Firstly, and most obviously,
is his ‘copycat’ use of formulas in successful
movies. My Wife Is a Gambling Maestro boasts an obvious similarity
to My Wife Is A Gangster, the hit Korean action comedy that
subverts gender stereotypes to tell the story of a ordinary
loser working class man who hooks up with a gorgeous gangster
this Wong Jing’s movie, the gorgeous girl is now the
gambling master Ying Ying, and the loser working class man
is Jay Chou. One of the funnier scenes in the movie has Jay
and his buddies water-colour paint each other’s backs
to appear more menacing when collecting debts. Yes, the formula
is clearly the same in this movie (which of course explains
the awkward English title “My Wife Is a Gambling Maestro”).
recycled trick is the gambling theme which has really began
to tire. After the Kung Fu Mahjong trilogy (which got from
bad to worse), Wong Jing yet again uses gambling as the backdrop
to ape previous successful movies. Kung Fu Mahjong married
the comic duo from Kung Fu Hustle with his pet theme of gambling,
and My Wife Is A Gambling Maestro is again another similar
attempt to do so, albeit with the My Wife Is A Gangster series.
after so many gambling movies, Wong Jing’s laziness
shows. The gambling scenes here, and even its climax where
the Asian God of Gambler is to be decided, are shot without
any attempt to build up suspense. Instead, Wong Jing fills
the scenes with slapstick (which isn’t very amusing
in the first place) and implausible tricks which even an amateur
like me would find hard to believe.
course, some may consider his laziness to be his signature
trademark in movies. Wong Jing recurrently names his characters
to sound like popular names in showbiz, so the fact that the
main character’s Chinese name sounds like Jay Chou comes
as no surprise. And his two friends, Leo Ku and Eason Chan.
There is also the “man gawks at big boobs” moment,
courtesy of Chinese actress Natalie Meng (who also took a
meaty role in his earlier Beauty and the 7 Breasts). Again,
whether you consider this to be his successful trademark or
another lazy attempt depends on whether you like Wong Jing
or not. But after so many of such similar jokes, I personally
see this as a lack of originality.
Yet My Wife Is a Gambling Maestro is not all bad. What is
particularly enjoyable is in fact the banter between the three
male buddies, played competently by Nick Cheung, Cheung Tat
Ming and Samuel Pang. Being seasoned comedians, their casual
banter is probably the best thing this action comedy has going
for it, especially so when heard in Cantonese.
same however cannot be said of fellow cast member and lead
actress Natalie Meng. It puzzles me why Wong Jing bothers
to cast such an unattractive lead and untalented actress in
two of his movies. Her wooden acting sinks like a lead weight
in this movie. The worse part is, she’s not even pretty
to begin with, and with Wong Jing movies that require you
to believe that the lead is the sort of girl that guys will
go ga-ga over, Natalie Meng is an utter letdown.
the end, My Wife Is a Gambling Maestro is really not the worst
Hong Kong movie you’ll see around these days (Scare
to Die comes to mind, because it’s so bad it’s
truly scary). But given that it comes from what used to be
one of Hong Kong’s more prolific and entertaining filmmakers,
Wong Jing, it is in my opinion another lazy and half hearted
attempt. At a time when Hong Kong cinema needs a shot in the
arm especially from seasoned vets like Wong Jing, My Wife
Is a Gambling Maestro just shoots it in the back.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
Only the trailer, which really doesn’t count
The best part about this DVD is its Cantonese audio option
(which is also available in its VCD format). Many of Wong
Jing’s jokes are written to be heard in Cantonese, so
if you can understand the language, go for it. Movie-wise,
it is a decent transfer though from the picture quality and
burnt-in subtitles, the same print has been probably used
for both. What irks, however, is how the Scorpio East logo
appears from time to time, on the top right of the screen
(perhaps to track any attempts to rip and pirate the movie).
by Gabriel Chong