Conman in Tokyo (2000) / Action-Comedy

MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG-13 for violence and innuendo
Running Time: 104 min.

Cast: Nick Cheung, Louis Koo, Christy Chung, Athena Chu, Ben Lam
Director: Ching Siu-Tung
Screenplay: Lo Yiu Fai

Review published January 17, 2001

Conman in Tokyo is a guilty pleasure of sorts.  It's a film that at its core is routine and predictable, yet is injected with such a spirit of fun and over-the-top style that it actually won me over through sheer energy.  It's not necessary to see any other films in the "Conman" series, and as of this writing I still haven't, so I can't really tell you how it stacks up against the others.  Regardless, the plot is simple enough to follow without much thought, and when the action takes center stage, you realize the plot is merely the device for some nifty special effects and impressive stunt work.

Nick Cheung (The Tricky Master, Conman 1999) plays Jersy, an up-and-coming gambler on the scene trying to become the number one gambler in Asia.  He soon meets Cool (Lost in Time, Flash Point), one of the top two gamblers and Jersy's idol, who has lived a life of seclusion after his girlfriend was stolen by a rival and married.  During a rescue attempt on her wedding day, Cool's former girlfriend ends up shot and living as a vegetable under the care of his enemy.  Jersy befriends Cool, and inspires him to help rescue the girl, who is suffering constant abuse on a daily basis.  Cool also is challenged by the other top gambler in his pursuits.

Credit isn't always easy to give to Wong Jing, but his pulp-style (and sometimes bad) writing seems to fit in with the grandiose stunt work by Ching Siu-Tung, who blends the action and comedy without venturing astray too far in either direction.  Conman in Tokyo also is blessed with a likeable cast, who fit in with their characterizations, and competent acting amid the high-caliber gunplay.  However, what makes Conman ultimately worth watching is the broad comedy and daring stunts, some of which are laden with CGI, but still a treat for the eyes.

Still, I must say I feel a twinge of guilt recommending it because it is a rather stupid movie, with such hard to believe aspects as a man who can kill people by throwing playing cards at them, but then I admire the attempt.  Don't make the mistake of expecting a good film, rather, expect a dumb but fun one and Conman in Tokyo should please easygoing Hong Kong film fans.

Qwipster's rating:

2001 Vince Leo