Anthony Pun’s “One More Chance” – 2023 Busan Film Review

Chow Yun Fat in the opening sequence of "One More Chance." (still courtesy of the Busan International Film Festival)
Chow Yun Fat in the opening sequence of “One More Chance.” (still courtesy of the Busan International Film Festival)

If “One More Chance” is, indeed, Chow Yun Fat’s final film – as he suggested (joked?) during his brief appearance in Busan – then what a swansong it is.

Although this marks Chow’s first film release in five years, production actually wrapped in early 2019.  One of three features screened in honor of his Asian Filmmaker of the Year award, “One More Chance” comprises, in many ways, Chow’s greatest hits of acting chops from action to comedy to drama, while paying homage to his seminal works such as the “God of Gamblers.”

Alas, Chow as Water Fai in “One More Chance” is as far away from his suave portrayal of Ko Chun as can be.  (The Chinese title of the film, “別叫我“賭神,” literally translates to “Don’t call me “God of Gamblers.””)  Fai is an angry hair salon owner in casino-filled Macau, constantly in debt and owing piles of money to various loan sharks.  His devoted friends, including a couple of salon employees and a gym teacher at a nearby school, try but fail to reel him in – often joining in his antics themselves.  Then a former flame, Lee Chik (co-star Anita Yuen, also in her first role in several years), suddenly shows up at his doorstep claiming that they share a son, and that she’ll give him enough money for a month to take care of him.  It turns out that the teenage son, Yeung (Will Or), is autistic, and as Fai tries to figure out how to care for him while getting to know him, their histories unfold over time through flashbacks.

Blood, sweat and tears are shed, but new memories are made as Fai juggles his emotions and learns valuable life lessons.  While it may be too late for him to turn back the clock, in many ways the English title of this film is just as appropriate as the Chinese version.  Fai might seem to be down on his luck, but ultimately a new lease on life gives him that second chance he didn’t know he needed.