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Special Feature

One of the great things about streaming technology is that it now provides us with increased

access to the whole of cinematic history from across the world. And world cinema has

certainly produced some seriously niche genres ranging from Korean horror movies to the

Mexican rumberas films.




















But it’s Chinese gambling movies that seem to deliver a particularly idiosyncratic insight into

a nation that’s obsessed with luck and slot machines. So here’s an overview of how Chinese

gambling movies have become an entire genre.


Although China has had a long fascination with luck, it wasn’t until the legendary Hong Kong

film-maker Wong Jing released God of Gamblers in 1989 that the gambling movie became a

huge fad in Chinese film-making.


The movie helped launched the careers of the likes of Chow Yun-fat and featured an

intoxicating blend of comedy and drama as it followed its protagonist through a series of

high-stakes games of poker and mahjong.


God of Gamblers became an overnight success and was, for a long time, the highest

grossing movie in Hong Kong’s history. As well as launching a string of sequels, the movie

paved the way for other successful gambling movies from the region, including All For The

Winner, Casino Raiders and Casino Tycoon.


Given that the genre rose to fruition shortly after the rise of Macau as the world’s number one

gambling destination, it’s no surprise to find that Chinese gambling movies have provided the

public with an endless amount of fascination.


However, with Macau facing increased pressure from online gaming sites such as Betway

who provide a range of table games and slot machines that can all be easily accessed from a

mobile device, it’s worth noting that the Chinese gambling genre has also had to diversify its

output a little.


As a result, the first decade of the 2000s saw some cinematic titles as unlikely as Kung Fu

Mahjong striking the Chinese multiplexes. This, when coupled with the hard economic

recession that struck the Hong Kong film industry last decade, meant that for a time, it

seemed that we had seen the last of the Chinese gambling movie.


But with Wong Jing recently returning in 2014 to deliver the acclaimed title, From Vegas To

Macau, it signifies that there is still a healthy public demand for this surprisingly entertaining

genre that can deliver all of the excitement and fascination of an exhilarating game of slots.

Great Chinese gambling movies


19th Feb 2016

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