Even Andy “God” Lau cannot resist!
Athena participated in another series initiated by Wong Jing: The Conman. The Conman is basically a variation on the formula established with God of Gamblers. A cast attractive for the box office (Andy Lau, Nick Cheung then promoted as a potential new Stephen Chow, Athena Chu …) and a good dose of gambling, drama, comedy, romance and action (in this order of importance). But time has passed since the making of God of Gamblers, audience have evolved as well as Wong Jing himself. Consequently, The Conman's tone is generally much more serious than its counterpart of 86. Not necessarily a good thing given the clumsiness of the filmmaker when dealing with true, realistic and dramatic emotions (see the second part of A True Mob Story, paradoxically, one of his best movie).
Athena at her best in The Conman
Despite its inadequate serious tone and the usual flaws of a Wong Jing script (bad rhythm, poorly-written characters, sub-plot forgotten), Conman shines at times: A few crazy ideas only Wong can imagine (the tricks around the football match's bets) and some good interactions between actors (Andy Lau/Nick Cheung, Andy/Athena). Athena and Andy Lau make a good onscreen couple, surprisingly touching and credible. Wong can thanks the actors, without them, Conman wouldn't have any quality to boast about. Undoubtedly because of its cast the movie grossed more than HK$ 17 millions at the box office.
Athena faces Ben Lam's abuses without emotion
Thanks to this good box-office result, Wong Jing decided to produce a sequel called Conman in Tokyo. In a typical Wong Jin's way this second episode was given a smaller budget. As such, Andy Lau was replaced by Louis Koo, a much cheaper actor than the super star. But still, Wong proved himself wise by letting Tony Ching Siu Tung direct. Without a doubt, a more talented director than him. Thanks to this change, Conman In Tokyo is more enjoyable than the first part. Ching staged some impressive action scenes (especially the ending on an aircraft carrier) and kept an energetic pace given the basic, predictable, story he had to work with. The actors deserved a good share of the credits too. The Nick Cheung/Christy Chung couple provided many laughs (Christy got nutty here!) while the Louis Koo/Athena couple was classy and worthy of the heroic lead part. The presence of the always great Yasuaki Kurata was also a nice addition. Athena looked as pretty as usual and delivered a good dual performance despite the usual script problems we can expect from a character written by Wong Jing. The actress didn't participate in the third part, widely considered as the poorest of the lot. How wise.