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Genre: Comedy
Starring: Nick Cheung, Natalie Meng, Cheung Tat Ming, Samuel Pang
Director: Wong Jing
Rating: NC-16 (Some Nudity)
Year Made: 2008





Languages: Mandarin & Cantonese
Subtitles: English/Chinese
Aspect Ratio: -
Presentation Size: -
Sound: -
Running Time: -
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Scorpio East




Gerrard (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 fact.

Best 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 girl.

In 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”).

Another 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.

But 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.

Of 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.

The 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.

In 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.


Only the trailer, which really doesn’t count as much.


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).



Review by Gabriel Chong


Other titles from Scorpio East:

. A Tale of Mari and the Three Puppies

. Fatal Move

. An Empress and the Warriors

. Ah Long Pte Ltd

. Talking Cock The Movie

. 2 Faces of My Girlfriend

. Lust Caution

. 881

. Brothers

. Ratatouille

. The Invisible

. The Lookout

. Alone

. Bar Paradise

. China Vampire

. Hooked On You

. Underdog

. Keeping Up With The Steins

. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

. High School Musical 2: Extended Edition

. Pixar Short Films Volume One

. Who Slept With Her?

. The Jungle Book

. Disney Princess Enchanted Tales

. Meet The Robinsons

. Goal II: Living the Dream

. Hanna Montana

. Meet The Robinsons

. Wild Hogs

. Breaking And Entering

. Jump In

. Primeval

. Forest of Death

. The Fox and the Hound 2

. The Fox and the Hound

. Dumbo

. One Last Dance

. Protege

. The Curse of the Golden Flower

. A Battle Of Wits

. Rain Dogs

. Heavenly Mission

. Exiled

. Operation Undercover

. Diary

. Fatal Contact

. Singapore Dreaming

. Rob-B-Hood

. On The Edge

. The World's Fastest Indian

. Dragon Tiger Gate

. Unarmed Combat

. Crazy Stone

. Election 2

. We Are Family

. I Not Stupid Too

. The Shoe Fairy

. 2 Becomes 1

. 49 Days


. Dragon Eye Congee

. A Chinese Tall Story

. Perhaps Love


. Election

. The Myth

. Wait 'Til You're Older

. The Maid


This review is made possible with the kind support from Scorpio East


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