Created on Saturday, 16 April 2011 00:00
Written by Samantha See
Directed by Li Nanxing, in collaboration with Harry Yap, The Ultimate Winner bears much resemblance to gambling series classic, "The Unbeatables", which shot him to flame. The film is also one quite personal to the veteran actor, who has had difficulties with gambling following a failed business venture.
Li Nanxing plays gambling genius, Shi Tiancai, who supports his wife, Zhihui (Rebecca Lim) thanks to his novice tricks. But when his first child is about to be born, his winnings are no longer sufficient. In a desperate bid, he dabbles with high-stake players and makes a reputation for his talent. The trouble begins here. Tiancai's talent is sought after by many and becomes the cause of jealousy for wealthy businessman, Li Guanjun (Taiwanese actor Aaron Chen) – later revealed to be his nemesis. The cast includes Chen Shucheng, Dai Yangtian, Phyllis Quek, Rayson Tan and Zheng Geping.
Perhaps with the assumption that local audience would associate the characters of "The Unbeatables", there is a dearth of character development for this film, making them less 2D than they already are. Plot-wise, just by looking at the poster and Li Nanxing's casting as the main lead, you could probably guess the entire story.
The Ultimate Winner is also one film that comes with social lesson attached. This time, aptly with the presence of the two Integrated Resorts (IR), the moral of the story is one that warns of the allure and consequences of gambling, especially on families. But with the weak characterisation and a weak plot to boot, the film is hardly convincing.
So, is The Ultimate Winner worth the gamble? Old and new fans alike will be pleased to see the suave gambler of a character on screen again, but if you are looking for more than that, you will be sorely disappointed.
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