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Capsule Reviews

Casino Raiders 2    (1991)
Chicken Feet (Andy Lau) assists in running an honorable gambling den owned by the crippled Uncle Fan (Lau Siu Ming) and his son Kit (Wong Kit). Having previously tried to shut down the gambling den and take over by paralysing Fan and framing Kit for another man's murder, ruthless local Triad boss, James (Kelvin Wong) goes a step further by murdering Fan. Driven only by money and the pursuit of two valuable 'Jade stones', James kidnaps Kit's daughter so he will surrender gambling in order for James to win the upcoming Championship. Despite Kit's wish to live a life of peace, Chicken Feet finds the Jade Stones and along with his partner, Lin (Jacqueline Wu Chien Lien) plots his own revenge against James.

The sequel to the 1989 Hong Kong Modern Classic Casino Raiders was never going to be as well received as it's predecessor, yet, despite the criticism that this merely cashed in on Lau's fast on-screen success, this is nevertheless an interesting film to look at.

Foremost, director Johnnie To takes a somewhat more 'poetic' perspective than Wong Jing did on the original, focusing more on drawn out character emotions which can, however, sometimes fall backwards on style. There are some exceptional scenes though, such as the lynching on the cruise boat, the fight on the docks at nighttime, and, of course, the final showdown between Lau and Wong. These emphasise To's ability to maintain consistency of plot without relying on visual spectacle, but still including subdued rich imagery.

The always impressive Andy Lau is brilliant yet again, and the entire support cast, particularly Wong Kit and Wu Chien-Lien give strong performances. Kelvin Wong, it must be said, is also thoroughly convincing as the cold-blooded James and gives, quite possibly, one of his best-ever performances.

In terms of fallbacks, the film does, at times, rely slightly too heavily on assumed prior knowledge, particularly on playing cards. Therefore, while an uninformed HK film fan might wait it out and try and keep up, the half-interested modest might give up completely.

Nevertheless, although often overshadowed by the success of the original, I feel this film covers some interesting ground and, if made easier for audiences, should perhaps be viewed as a film by itself... as opposed to an unrelated sequel to Casino Raiders. The melodramatic nature of the film may, at times, seem far fetched, but nonetheless combines with the strong performances and rich casino-noir visuals to create an enjoyable and entertaining film which certainly deserves more than one viewing.
Michael Murphy 4/4/2005 - top

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