Film Review: No More Bets 孤注一掷 (2023) China 🇨🇳
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia 🇦🇺)
With the impending JPEX fraud and the South-East Asian kidnapped “workers”, it’s probably timely to witness “No More Bets” a film that tackles both of these themes and concerns making this more than just a public message. In fact the best parts of the film is when there is no law enforcement, where the criminals and the forced workers (from all walks life) interacts, somehow manage to build an elaborated online scam that follows any traditional fraud we have all seen before. At the end of the day, it’s greed that breaks the bank, and it’s human nature to want more for less. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but as we all know when it’s too good to be true it’s probably not true.
Lay Zhang plays the main protagonist whose ambitions to be a Chief Information Officer becomes shattered and ended up accepting a lucrative opportunity offshore in South East Asia. From there he is kidnapped in Thailand and forced to work as a programmer for an online gambling fraud run by the notorious gangster (played ruthlessly by Eric Wang). There he meets the beautiful model played by Gina Jin, whose role is to lure “water fish” to gambling more and more until they lose everything on the online platform. Connecting to these stories, we also get gambler (played by Darren Wang) who goes all out to win back his loses that will eventually cost him everything literally. This also get intertwined with the public messages through the words of anti crime officers (played traditionally by Yong Mei), probably to appease the censor boards.
Director Shen Ao, who also co-wrote the screenplay alongside Zhang Yifan and Xu Luyang created a tight thriller that speaks about the human condition and how far we are willing to go to pursue at the core of the manner, greed and money. Similar to the more polish “Wolf of Wall Street”, the film is at its best when it is focused on the scam, the characters and how they react to different challenges thrown at them. All in all, “No More Bets” is one of those Chinese films that manages to rise above its public service message and manages to entertain for most of the duration. That’s good enough for me.
I rated it 8/10