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From Vegas to Macau: Slapstick comedy and visual gags galore

Hong Kong director Wong Jing’s gambling-themed “From Vegas to Macau” doesn’t have a strong storyline, but makes up for it with a capable cast and plenty of humour.

SINGAPORE: Hong Kong director Wong Jing's "From Vegas to Macau" rehashes elements from his previous “God of Gamblers” films, and doesn’t have a strong plot.

But it is still a rather entertaining film.

"From Vegas to Macau" sees veteran Hong Kong actor Chow Yun Fat play "Magic Hand" Ken, a master gambling cheat that is roped in by the police to destroy a money laundering operation run by Ko (Hugh Gao).

With the help of his friend Benz's (Benz Hui) son, gifted hacker Cool (Nicholas Tse), and nephew, the girl-crazy Karl (Chapman To), Ken crafts an elaborate plan to retrieve evidence of Ko's wrongdoing and trap him when he visits Macau to attend a charity ball.

Along the way, Cool and Karl vie for the affection of Ken's daughter Rainbow (Kimmy Tong), while undercover Chinese police officer Lorraine (Jing Tian) risks life and limb to keep tabs on Ko.

Wong's comedic touch is evident in "From Vegas to Macau", which is chock full of ridiculous visual gags as well as slapstick humour, and resembles his earlier madcap comedies like "Tricky Brains" and "Royal Tramp".

The plot is quite flimsy, and contains more than a few holes, though the film's zany humour, and good performances from its cast saves "From Vegas to Macau" from mediocrity.

Chow proves he can actually do comedy in the film, and brings on the laughs as the eccentric, fun-loving Ken.

The charismatic actor simply overshadows his co-stars Tse and To, even though they too are accomplished actors, and add quite a bit of comedic flair to “From Vegas to Macau”.

Unlike the film’s male stars, however, Jing and Tong get little chance to shine in the film, which relegates its female characters to being largely eye-candy or damsels in distress.

Apart from Wong’s unique brand of tongue-in-cheek humour, “From Vegas to Macau” also has quite a bit of action.

While relatively unsophisticated computer generated special effects are used for many of the action sequences – such as a scene where Ken throws razor sharp, metal throwing cards to defeat Ko’s thugs – they are no less impressive.

To Wong's credit, the film maintains a balance between action and comedy, making sure to always end fights with a punchline or two, in order to keep the tone of the film light-hearted.

All in all, “From Vegas to Macau” is definitely worth a look for those who want to let their hair down, not think too much (which would allow them to ignore the film's somewhat illogical plot), and just get some laughs during the Lunar New Year.

3/5 stars.

“From Vegas to Macau” opens January 30.

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