Truth is said to be stranger than fiction, and Casino Tycoon brings the full force of this statement home. It is a Hong Kong action drama that was released in 1992, with Wong Jing at the helm. Jing held the positions of writer, producer and director for this project, and recruited Andy Lau; Chingmy Yau and Joey Wong for it as well. The film takes for its inspiration the true stories of Stanley Ho; Henry Fok and Yip Hon, and was followed by a sequel entitled Casino Tycoon 2 the same year of its release that enjoyed similar acclaim upon its release.
The Summary of Casino Tycoon
Casino Tycoon takes for its setting the chaos of World War II, with it chronicling the story of Benny/Ho Hsin during this portion of history. Andy Lau takes the part of this character, fleeing Hong Kong during the Japanese invasion of this city and heading off to make his fortune to Macau, the gambling haven that has since become so widely known. Once he arrives he manages to impress a local businessman, albeit one who has ties to organised crime, and Benny manages to slowly make his way up the ranks of this underworld, dealing with all the trouble that necessarily follows any type of involvement with the mob.
Stanley Ho’s remarkable story serves as the inspiration for the character of Benny, and this gangland drama brings to life the lust; greed and power that characterises any type of individual who manages to make his mark as thoroughly as Ho did. Andy Lau’s Hsin arrives in Macau alongside his friend Nan, played by Alex Man, in the 1940s, and the pair works their way up the rankings, starting off as menial labourers and ending up as very valuable employees of a somewhat sinister casino. Their journey takes them through all manner of ups and downs, but Hsin manages to accrue a fortune while winning and losing several along the way. Although his girlfriend Joey Wang does end up a casualty of this period, he does meet and marry Chingmy Yau, and we see that he is determined not to rest until he has managed to meet his ultimate goal: astounding levels of personal wealth and ownership of his own crazy luck casino.
The Continuing Appeal of Casino Tycoon
Viewers around the world are always fascinated by stories that involve very powerful men, and Casino Tycoon delivers this aspect in full. We are also able to witness the kind of sacrifices this amount of power requires, and are left to make up our own minds as to whether or not the deal was worth it in the end.
While Casino Tycoon can be enjoyed on a totally superficial level, thanks to the masterful direction and excellent acting it makes use of, it also raises questions as to the actual value of these types of decisions in constructing a happy, worthwhile life, and will leave thoughtful viewers with opinions as to whether or not he or she would be willing to make them.