A film based on the American life of an Asian professor, “Poker Face” by Jose Chung Chang is a dramatic portrayal of the ups and downs of an untraditional marriage and of a truly sincere romance. Joseph Choi, played in the film by veteran actor Billy Meehan, is portrayed as a slight man with a loose American accent, dating his wife, Allison, to avoid complications with his business dealings and financial obligations. The story follows their two children: Kim (Jenny Yang), a beautiful little girl who attends a prestigious private school in Vancouver, and Matt (Xiao Lin), a schoolmate who moves away from his parents when he turns seventeen.
Cheong is an observant character. He clearly finds his interest in dating women inappropriate. But he nevertheless finds his true soul mate in the form of a young woman named Allison, and as their relationship develops, he finds himself taking on the persona of a poker player. From the outset, it is clear that there will be danger in the equation.
Chan is able to play a steely, proud man who finds himself held in contempt by people of authority. His every move is calculated, and his professional skills are at the top of his range.
However, he can also be taken to pieces. There are instances when he feels his own growing attraction towards Allison. Later, she is cast aside by the person she has once been in favor of Kim. This scene is the heart of the movie.
I did not know that “Poker Face” was a sequel to a Broadway musical called “Romeo and Juliet” (although it is listed as “Poker Face – Part II” on its Internet home page). However, this film still is a very nice continuation of a theme that is being explored throughout the movie. Such themes include love, honor, duty, loyalty, and loyalty to one’s family.
The plot actually makes very little sense unless you are familiar with a popular game of poker. Chan has been visiting the casino and trying to learn the game of poker since he was a child. In the beginning, he is unable to compete with his father in his skill at the game.
At the end of the film, when Chung is looking for a place to visit his doctor to discuss his cancer diagnosis, he decides to look for a female doctor who specializes in cardiology. He also wants to find a nurse who knows how to perform an abortion.
The doctor agrees to perform the abortion while they talk. He is a very good player in the game and so is aware of the poker sequence, but even so, he is surprised when he sees what happens to his first encounter with Poker Face.
After an abortion and a subsequent exchange of wedding vows between Chung and his nurse, he is convinced that he can make a life for himself. This discovery causes him to break down his strategy of building up his family as he continues his marriage to Allison. He begins to protect Kim against a world in which he feels he is in danger of losing everything he has built.
His journey is a rousing and humanizing one that both teens and adults will find sympathetic. His actions resonate through the ages.
However, “Poker Face” has one or two bad moments that detract from a good performance. The early scenes in which Chung and Allison interact seem to be strained to the point of not believable. And although some of the storylines are believable, such as the Nurse’s plotline, most of the relationships are somewhat flat.
For a first feature, “Poker Face” has found a very good market. It is a popcorn movie that is entertaining enough that adults will not feel that they are wasting their time.