Director: Steve Cheng
Cast: Nick Cheung, Kristy Yang, Alex To, Sam Lee, Tricia Chen
Fate Fighter is the latest sequel of the Conman series featuring Nick Cheung as the protagonist. Just like its previous episode Conman 2002, the story and the characters are not related to the Andy Lau's version or Stephen Chow's ones in the early 1990s. For those who don't speak Chinese, part of the Chinese title of this film is "Dou Hap" (literally translated as "the heroic gambler"), which is the exact same title used in Stephen Chow's gambling series in the 1990s (i.e. God of Gamblers II and God of Gamblers III: Back to Shanghai). This film has nothing to do with the old ones, and in fact, gambling is only a side dish, the theme of the story is feng shui and fate (as hinted from the title Fate Fighter).
Compared to the micro-budget Conman 2002, the scale of this film is also not that big, yet the script is better crafted. The story is at least more interesting and logical. Sei-leung (Nick Cheung) and Ting-yat (Alex To) are brothers who share incredible gambling ability, but they grow up in very different living environment. Sei-leung lives poorly in a shabby apartment while Ting-yat is a successful businessman and leads a wealthy life. As a faithful believer of feng shui, Ting-yat realizes that his future of good luck depends on Sei-leung... The premise of this film should be no stranger to those HK movies regulars, as it is also what My Lucky Star talks about early in the year. Similar to My Lucky Star, this film emphasizes the power of fate-telling (min) and its compelling effect on the destiny of human being. To make things more dramatic and complicated, gambling is incoporated with the story and so the fate of Sei-leung and Ting-yat are decided by a final gambling duel.
The main plot of this film, that is, the conflict of the two brothers, is actually nothing new nor does it contain any surprising elements. Nevertheless, director Steve Cheng's execution is satisfactory. He succeeds in telling this story in an engaging way. Both of the brothers are depicted positively. Even though Alex To is supposed to be the bad guy in the film, you wouldn't find him too annoying. The only problem of the narrative is probably the supporting characters. Most of these supporting characters are either outrageously stupid or blatantly performed. For instance, Sam Lee's character is totally nonsensical. His dialogues are full of craps that don't fit into the story at all. The face-off scene in the end is also meaningless. Technically speaking, computer special effects are used wisely that greatly enhance the entertainment value of the gambling scenes.
The performance of the cast reminds me of Stephen Chow. Chow's acting style is always imitated by other actors. For instance, drama turned comedy actor Louis Koo has been accused of imitating Chow's accent a lot. In Fate Fighter, the Stephen Chow phenomenon is even more predominant. Nick Cheung does not only imitate Chow's "slow speaking" accent, he also learns from Chow's Shaolin Soccer and pronounces some of the words in a weird way. The same also happens to some of the supporting characters in the film. I wouldn't say it is bad to imitate and learn from the master, but before the actor decides to imitate, he/she should actually consider whether it fits his/her own style. Apparently, Nick Cheung's blatant accent doesn't seem to suit him well... Edison Chen's elder sister Tricia Chen makes her film debut in this film. I really have no comment on her acting, I can only say that she better sticks with her singing career.
If you were disappointed with Conman 2002, you would probably feel better watching Fate Fighter. Nevertheless, it isn't really a gambling movie, if you are looking for some serious gambling plots, it is probably not your cup of tea.
Reviewed by: Kantorates