Hong Kong comedy legend Stephen Chow is ready to pass the torch in this Wong jing-directed gambling comedy.
Leung Foon is a Hong Kong cop whose antics have not exactly made him a top name on the force. However, he is determined to become a top undercover officer. His dream assignment is to go undercover to take down Ferrari, a notorious gambler who has been swindling the stock market and tricking people. During his infiltration, he finds himself attracted by First Love, a mysterious woman who is working for Ferrari. This leads to Foon’s girlfriend Pizza’s sister Wasabi to resort to desperate means.
Despite his hatred from swindlers, Foon is forced to learn the art of swindling from Wasabi’s husband Master Wong. Master Wong has been serving prison time for his swindling and is an expert master in the art. Master Wong teaches Foon how to become an expert trickster and gambler. When Ferrari learns of Foon’s true identity and also learning Master Wong has been teaching him, he sets a plan for an ultimate challenge to determine who is the best swindler in town.
After the release of 1990’s All for the Winner, a parody of the classic God of Gamblers, Stephen Chow soon became the comedy king, with much of his 90’s work focused on his collaborations with writer-director Wong Jing. Some of the biggest moneymakers between the duo were that of the gambling and trickster comedies, such as God of Gamblers II, Tricky Brains, God of Gamblers III (Back to Shanghai), and many others. However, at the end of the decade, Chow had decided to go in a new direction and this film would mark the final collaboration between Wong and Chow, which means it was time to pass the torch.
Nick Cheung became the one that Chow passes the torch to. In paying homage to one of the greatest martial artists in the history of cinema and his student, it was fitting that Stephen Chow’s character would be known as “Master Wong” with Nick Cheung playing “Leung Foon”. In some nods to some of Chow’s earlier films, Cheung promotes a shampoo that re-energizes him and treats it like a commercial, much like Chow did with Cheng Pei-Pei in the hilarious Flirting Scholar. Foon at first hates Wong for being an expert trickster, but soon learns that to defeat the villainous Ferrari, played by director Wong, he must learn under the master himself.
Of course, with Chow-Wong collaborations, there has to be some form of eye candy. In this case, it’s Kelly Lin, who plays femme fatale First Love. She is introduced in a beach scene where she looks like the girl next door before revealing her true femme fatale nature. And in a hilarious way that only Wong pulls off, Foon’s attraction leads him to a reverse tent pitch, in which his rear is expanded instead of the front. Just think about that.
The comic elements of the film is quite hilarious as well. In a hilarious scene where Wasabi attempts to hug her husband during his birthday celebration, she is kicked by Wong’s prison guards, played by Ng Chi-Hung and Lee Siu-Kei of the Young and Dangerous franchise. There’s also a parody of the Japanese horror film Ringu, in which the ghost comes out of the television, only to have Chow punch the ghost out. Kudos must also go out to Bobby Yip, who plays Wong’s deaf friend Dragon, who not only has a fourth wall break that is hilarious, but even dresses up in drag to help Food and Wong out in the final challenge scene. Not to mention Wong Jing himself pulls off some Mantis Kung Fu when he calls for it.
As with other Chow-Wong collaborations, the comedy is complemented by some pretty fun action scenes. In the case of Chow, he engages in two fights against Drunken Master II’s superkicking baddie, Ken Low. Their second fight stands out where Chow goes into full Bruce Lee mode and in a nod to Enter the Dragon, does the chest stomp scream…but not how one would expect. The opening action scene pays a nod to the just released Matrix where we see Foon and his partner, played by Tats Lau, dodge (or attempt to dodge) bullets.
The Tricky Master is a “passing of the torch” between Stephen Chow and Nick Cheung, marking his final collaboration with Wong Jing. Chow makes the most of his screen time, the comedy is pretty funny at times, and the action is nice as well. A proper send off of Chow’s “mo lei tau” era of the 1990s.
WFG RATING: B+
Mei Ah Entertainment presents a B.O.B. and Partners Ltd. Production. Director: Wong Jing. Producer: Wong Jing. Writer: Wong Jing. Cinematography: Ko Chiu-Lam. Editing: Sue Woo.
Cast: Nick Cheung, Stephen Chow, Wong Jing, Kelly Lin, Sandra Ng, Suki Kwan, Ken Low, Bobby Yip, Ng Chi-Hung, Lee Siu-Kei.