Who is the Winner


Reviewed by: sukting

June 26, 2009

Rating: three-point-five

Foreword

Although we have watched ‘God of gamblers’ movies and also "The shell game", this was the first gambling drama that ATV produced to have good ratings. It is on gambling but it also touches on human relationships.

Story/Introduction on characters

1. Shek Chi Hong – Chan Ting Wai
His two mothers love gambling but he doesn’t. He has t obail them out of trouble numerous times but he hates it. To earn a living, he aspires to be a chef in Man Long’s casino but he ends up becoming a dealer. He witnesses Jan’s death and is more determined not to take up gambling. But somehow, he has no choice but to learn the gambling skills as part of the nature of his work.

Thus he takes up from Yat Fung. Mun Long admires his talents and promotes him faster than Bak Ki. But he has a low self-esteem as his mothers are greengrocers. Thus he has no courage to tell Hei Tong that he loves her. Bak Ki and he get a similar watch for Hei Tong’s birthday but Bak Ki gets to give it out first and he only gives the watch to Kar Wai. Even though Kar Wai conveys his feelings to Hei Tong, Hei Tong has accepted Bak Ki.

The deaths of several of his close ones give him a hard blow but Kar Wai is always by his side to console him. He has only treated her like a friend as she is the same age as Chi Ling. Both later confirm their feelings to be lovers. He is outstanding in this role and deserves to be famous for it. Unlike others who flash their claws, he keeps a low profile to look cool and this makes him stands out more.

2. Cheung Bak Ki – Lui Chung Hin
He is adopted by another family since young. Upon learning about the death of his biological father, Jan, he returns to Hong Kong immediately. He befriends Siu Ming and Chi Hong. The three become as close as brothers. He wants to find a chance to kill Mun Long but first he has to work in his casino. He tries attracting his attention by playing high stakes at the casino.

Instead of making a grand entrance, he is shamed instead as he loses to Jo Nam. He is made to crawl out of the casino like a dog. He is later hired but only takes on minor duties. Thus he vents his frustrations on Hei Tong. Whatever he does is not significant in Man Long’s eyes. He tries promoting the casino and even gambles like Chi Hong against other gambling kings. Man Long only praises Chi Hong but not him. Later, he plans to use Hei Tong as a tool to get back at Mun Long but ends up truly loving her.

Despite being wicked at times, he is a loyal friend. He tries as hard as he can to avoid clashing with Chi Hong directly when they work for different bosses. He has not wanted to gamble against Chi Hong but Man Long forces him to do it. It is only when they pay respects at Jan’s grave during his death anniversary that Chi Hong knows his identity. He tries getting him to stop but it is too late for him as there is no turning back. This is the first time I see Chung Hin as the underdog and I really enjoy it. It is a refreshing change.

3. Szeto Siu Ming – Cheung Kar Fai
He is a horse jockey and is Chi Hong’s uncle after his sister marries his father. But they are more like brothers. He likes Siu Suet and isn’t afraid of Mun Long. To get close to her, he has no regrets working for him. To steal a chance to be with Siu Suet, he agrees to try to win a race. On the fateful day, he sees Siu Suet being abducted at the spectator stand. Losing concentration, he falls off his horse and is stamped to death by the horses.

4. Cheung Kar Wai – Man Yee Mun
She is a fishmonger’s daughter who has little education. She falls for Chi Hong for a long time but he only treats her like a friend. She makes birthday buns for Kam Fung’s birthday. Seeing that Hei Tong gets a cake for her, she gets jealous and crushes it. She senses the danger of it as a love rival so she decides to work for her in her boutique.

Her ignorance causes her to make plenty of mistakes. Kar Wai also fears that Choi will get angry when she doesn’t work at the fish stall. Sure enough, he runs after her with a chopper. Hei Tong then talks to him to make him change his mind. She also shares her expertise with her. Kar Wai starts to feel that she is like a sister to her and aborts her plan. She decides to pair her with Chi Hong.

Chi Hong gets rejected by Hei Tong so she becomes his pillar of strength. But she is aware that he is only treating her as his friend. He only realizes that he loves her when she leaves. He has to fight hard to get her back when she is about to marry her Japanese boyfriend.

There is a breakthrough for her in this role. Usually, she is cast as demure and sweet. Here, she is a tomboy and is very rough in her actions. She appears in little make-up to make her role more convincing. A good attempt made.

5. Niet Hei Tong – Ng Yee Lei
She is Man Long’s only daughter who studies fashion designing overseas. Man Long dotes on her and gets her to design the workers’ uniform and she is arranged to work with Bak Ki. Bak Ki is annoyed for getting such a minor post and picks on her. She is annoyed and is determined to win over his recognition. She does and also wins his love. She actually likes Chi Hong more but he is too reserved.

She has doubted Bai Ki’s love for her after knowing his identity. When knowing that Bak Ki and Man Long are gambling their lives against each other, she slashes her wrists in front of them to attempt to stop it. This distracts Bak Ki but not the merciless Man Long. Bak Ki loses and Man Long disabled him. She then decides to bring him to Hawaii but Man Long doesn’t let him off to kill him. She loses hope in him and migrates overseas.

She is really very skinny like a bamboo spirit – just like the nickname that Kar Wai gives her. It doesn’t help when she has such big eyes and her hair is so short. But her acting is quite convincing. She doesn’t do as well when she is in TVB – strange isn’t it?

6. Kong Siu Suet – Suet Lei
She is Mun Long’s mistress who has a miserable life. Hei Tong feels indignant for her mother and takes a long time to accept her. She has intended to elope with Siu Ming but never knows that this causes him to die.

7. Ho Jo Nam – Ng Shing Fat
He is Mun Long’s foster son who manages the casino with him. He is capable and looks down on Bak Ki. He never stops digging at him as he also likes Hei Tong. When Bak Ki becomes the winner to replace him for a gambling match. It is payback time for him. Bak Ki also frames him for misusing the casino funds to force him to leave. When Bak Ki thinks that he gets Mun Long’s trust, he discovers that it is only a lie as Jo Nam is watching him all along. Mun Long only trusts him and no one else.

8. Cheung Jan – Ko Hung
He is a professional gambler who hasn’t forgotten his humiliation of losing a hand to Man Long. He makes a comeback and still loses again. Before he dies, he passes a chip to Chi Hong so that he can learn from Yat Fung. He also hopes that Chi Hong can get to see his son to wish him to take revenge for him.

9. Chun Kin – Lo Liet
He is in charge of the table games dealers. No one can expect him to be so ruthless in the past to chop off Yat Fung’s finger. Seeing that Chi Hong has a lot of potential in the dices, he transfers him to his department and trains him hard. Chi Hong regards him as his teacher.

Although he learns that Yat Fung is his teacher, he tries to explain to Man Long for him as he is aware that Chi Hong doesn’t know Yat Fung’s past. Man Long will not hear of it so he also leaves the casino with Chi Hong. To make sure that Bik Hua’s casino ship can’t be opened, Man Long poaches her men. Kin and Yat Fung work together for the first time – to train her men to do the job.

10. Suen Yat Fung – Cheung Jing
Kar Wai gets to know him in an arcade. She never knows that he is an ex-gambling king. He went gambling with Jan against Mun Long. He loses the game and also a finger and goes into retreat. If he gambles again, he needs to lose another finger. He is a person who never breaks his promise. He is Chi Hong’s teacher and teaches him all he knows. This causes Chi Hong to lose Hei Tong when Bai Ki uses the time to woo her.

Kam Fung forces him to gamble for her at the casino to pay off her debts. He gets frightened and runs away upon seeing Kin, causing her to lose more money. But seeing how Bai Kei is killed by Mun Long, he decides to help Chi Hong. He fakes his death of a heart attack while playing with Tin Ding so that Mun Long will let go of his guard.

11. Chan Kam Fung – Lee Heung Kum
She is Chi Hong’s mother. You will laugh at how she gambles. Man Long gambles with style but she doesn’t. She often resorts to cheating. She keeps digging her nose and often quarrels with Bing but both are as close as sisters. Who will expect her to give birth to a refined-looking, polite and filial son like Chi Hong?

12. Szeto Bing – Yuen King Dan
She is Chi Hong’s second wife who loves gambling like Kam Fung to often get into trouble. But she straightens her ways after seeing how Kam Fung is imprisoned because of it.

13. Shek Chi Ling – Cheng Mun Yee
She is Chi Hong’s younger sister who dislikes her mothers to gamble as well. Kar Wai’s suitor goes to the rooftop after being rejected as she likes Chi Hong. Afraid that he will do something silly, she tails him. She never expects him to become her future husband. Kam Fung is going to jail because of her. Afraid that her wedding will be called off, she begs her future in-laws to accept Chi Ling. Chi Ling is touched by her mother’s love for her.

14. Lau Bik Wah – Wong Lai Sha
She is Kam Fung’s cellmate in prison who takes care of her when she gets bullied. She is actually the wife of the underworld boss. She is released earlier than Kam Fung and offers to get Chi Hong to work on her casino ship after he leaves Man Long. Being childless, she accepts him as his foster son.

15. Cheung Tin Ding – Yeung Kuan
He is back in Hong Kong, not to compete with Man Long who loses to him in the past. He is actually more interested to gamble with Yat Fung who wins over him. The two old men gamble and Yat Fung doesn’t regret losing a finger again. Midway, Yat Fung has a heart attack but refuses to give up. He gets Chi Hong to take over. Because Tin Ding is older and less agile, he loses but he doesn’t mind it.

16. Niet Mun Long – Chun Pui
What he has on his mind is only winning. He doesn’t show any mercy to his foes. Unlike his enemies who keep promises, he doesn’t. Bak Ki has thought that he conceals his past well but in reality, Mun Long has checked his background in detail. He has fun humiliating him all along. The final duel with Chi Hong had his crushing defeat and he turns mad.

17. Cheung Choi
He is Kar Wai’s father who is a fishmonger. He has been at loggerheads with the Sheks as they work in the same marketplace. But seeing how Kar Wai likes Chi Hong, he is willing to bury the hatchet with them.

Favourite character

Chi Hong, he does his role as a son, brother and also lover dutifully. But sometimes, his overly quiet personality puts others off. He doesn’t confide in others easily.

Most hated character

Mun Long – he wants others to keep promises but he doesn’t. Bai Ki is already an invalid who doesn’t pose a threat to him anymore but he still wants to end his life to put a complete stop to his worries.

Interesting facts

The ratings were more than 21 points when it was released. TVB was threatened and almost all other dramas that it put up against lost to it. Tin Wai had acted in many roles in TVB but was often given second fiddle roles. He was accepted as their no.1 groomed actor in ATV and he also worked hard.

When it was shown in Singapore, it also became an instant hit. All were mesmerized by the gambling tricks. Even Malay viewers became strong supporters. Many even refused to work overtime so that they could return home to watch the drama on time. Sometimes, Tin Wai would go to the casino to play the jackpot. There was once he won a few thousand dollars by getting four fours. But he didn’t like to gamble as it was only deluding himself.

Learning the gambling tricks for the drama took him a lot of time. He could shuffer the cards with one hand, toss the cards in the air and get four green dragons. But tossing the cards required a lot of strength. His fingers were painful after doing that.

He was very active and could not sit for long. Poker cards involve big stakes while mahjong needs a lot time to play. Thus he was uninterested in any. But after acting ‘Who is the winner’, many thought that he was really the gambling king. When he placed a stake, others followed suit to give him a lot of pressure.

There are 3 segments for this drama. The latest was said to be ‘Who is the winner2008’ to star Choi Siu Fun. Not that Siu Fun worked in Hong Kong but in China together with Chi Lam. I wasn’t sure when it would be out.

Conclusion

The drama runs in the same style as the movies but it was of a higher standard although the skills were shown on the small screen. The plot is under serious planning. If the cast isn’t strong, it will be unable to lure viewers. But still, it lacks originality. It is always about how all the gamblers compete to become No. 1. But in the end, the person most uninterested to be becomes the ultimate winner. Luckily, the cast gives surprises. The veterans throw in their best and the casino scenes are real-like. Many would not be disappointed after watching it.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : **** (Scale of 5)

On story : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)


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