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The History of Gambling in Asian Movies

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The gambling industry continues to grow exponentially in Asia, especially in China and Thailand; Macau is renowned across the world for its glitzy casinos. Gambling has a rich history in Asian movies, too. It has been a popular theme since the 80s, and with various Asian countries loosening their gambling laws we are likely to see even more movies with gambling themes.

 

How it started

Wong Jing is widely credited with introducing gambling to Asian movies. His 1981 movie ‘Challenge of the Gamestars’ popularized many of the themes viewers have since become accustomed to. Stylish gamblers played at expensive, high rolling casinos and then relaxed with cocktails on exclusive, sun drenched beaches. The movie focused on the glamour of gambling with sharp suits and immaculately dressed characters. 

 

This focus on style and success made ‘Challenge of the Gamestars‘ popular and kickstarted a type of ‘gambling movie’ genre within the industry. Plots differed of course, but the glamorous themes, exotic locations and sharp suits remained mostly in place. Wong Jing spent a lot of time in the company of gamblers, so it is natural that he chose to feature them in his work. He could not have predicted the legacy that his movie would have and how it would put gambling at the forefront of Asian cinema.

 

Popular titles

There is a lot to choose from. Gods of Gamblers is perhaps the most popular Asian gambling movie, so much so that this 1989 classic spawned an impressive six sequels, not to mention a further nine spinoffs. All the usual highclass gamblers and glitzy casinos were present, but the movie adopted a more comic tone with some slapstick violence.

 

Also released in 1989, Casino Raiders was widely popular. It charted the fortunes of two gamblers as they tried to crack a highclass casino. The 1998 epic ‘The Conman’ explored the sometimes cruel reality of gambling as the main character was sent to prison, losing his family in the process (although the movie retained many of the glamorous tropes of its predecessors). More optimistically, the 2009 Poker Kingfollowed a gambler on his route to the top.

 

Much later (and proof that the gambling genre endures in Asia), Tazza: The High Rollers took things in a darker direction. The South Korean movie followed a professional card player as he plunged into the murky depths of underground gambling. 

 

Why are gambling movies so popular in Asia?

Asia’s economic growth is entwined with gambling and casinos play a cultural and social part in everyday life. Not only do Asians frequently visit casinos, but they play online too, experiencing all the thrills and spills of gambling from the comfort of their homes. Comparing casinos using a service like OnlineCasinos has made it even easier for people to find the right place to play. Online casinos offer a wide range of table and slot games, so they are a popular way to fill leisure time in countries including Hong Kong and South Korea. 

 

The relationship between Asia and gambling runs even deeper than that, though. Asian culture celebrates luck, good fortune and wealth; those themes give gambling an undeniable allure. This explains why gambling movies are so popular, and how many of them managed to gross millions of dollars at the box office.


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