The Conman, a 1998’s Film Reviewed

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The Conman is listed as a Hong Kong action comedy film, released in 1998. The film was produced, written and directed by Wong Jing. It stars the remarkably popular Andy Lau, Athena Chu and Nick Cheung. The Conman has a complicated storyline and there are a number of plot cul-de-sacs during the course of the narrative, and a comedy soundtrack that gives the film a surrealistic feeling.

The Vagaries of the Plot

In terms of the base storyline, King is a small-time crook and con man. His wife has left him after catching him with a mistress. He is extremely proficient at many gambling and casino disciplines, including poker. During just such a poker match, he gets into a brawl with another card shark and ends up stabbing him in self-defence. The system comes down on him like a ton of bricks, and he is thrown in jail for five years before he can tell his estranged wife. The stress of the whole episode made King colour-blind, and this has very little influence on his card play for several years. Fortunately, prison can also be a learning experience, and one of the lessons King learnt was horse racing.

Eventually his incarceration is over, and his only thought is to find his estranged wife and apologise for being away, especially since she was pregnant when she had left. He is picked up by a friend of a friend, called Skinny Dragon. They immediately become friends and King teaches Dragon some of his card and sports betting tricks. In the meantime they are staying at Dragon’s sisters’ place, which leads to Dragons’ sister being drawn to King due to his cool and offish attitude. He only has thoughts for his missing wife and child. Dragon becomes his assistant in the card cheating game.

Enter the Antagonist

In due course these two conmen run into The Conman, a con artist and boss of the sports betting venues around town. His name is Macau Mon. As things often go, King and Dragon are drawn into an assassination plot on Macau Mon. They are helped in their planning after King is recognised by the younger brother of the man he killed and he declares revenge. Despite rumours of his wife’s demise by suicide, King finds is ex-partner had taken his wife and child in and looked after them. He had started the rumours to protect her.

In a hilarious murder plot, King remakes the Football World Cup final, where Brazil beats France. In reality France won, of course, but the plan was to give Macau Mon, who had bet everything on France, a terrible fright and he would have a heart attack. In a dramatic twist of fate, King warns Macau Mon of another attempt on his life, and saves him. Everyone is delighted with the outcome and just as King heads off to tell Dragons’ sister that he loves her, he accidentally gets run over and killed by Dragon himself.

In Summary

The Conman is therefore not a film that concentrates on any particular form of gambling, and covers card games, horse races and sports betting. Directorially, the Conman explores various techniques and effects randomly, not least of all a farcical ending.