Casino Raiders ★★★★½

A movie about Chang Cheh-style brotherhood updated to the post-A Better Tomorrow universe mixed with bits and shots from Scorsese (Mean Streets and The Color of Money), Coppola (The Godfather) and Leone Once Upon a Time in America). Written and directed by Wong Jing and Jimmy Heung, (the pair parodied it less than six months later with God of Gamblers) and action direction by Corey Yuen. With Andy Lau and pop sensation Alan Tam as a pair of expert gamblers (they don't cheat normal people, only other pros) one of whom tries to go straight while the other gets injured and falls into poverty. Epic in length for a Hong Kong film (I think all the Wong films I've seen recently are longer than the standard HK 100 minute running-time) and serious in tone (only one tone, highly unusual for Wong Jing), building to a terrific climax and a very cool final twist. It's weird to say that a Wong Jing film is the normal one in a comparison, but compared to the highly-stylized heroic bloodshed films of the late 80s (not just the John Woo films, but also Patrick Tam's My Heart is that Eternal Rose or Wong Kar-wai's As Tears Go By or Ringo Lam's City on Fire, and so on) Wong plays it pretty straight.

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