Mahjong is a Chinese game normally involving 4 people and 144 tiles.
The object is to create winning combinations of tiles.
And to fleece as much money as possible from your opponents.
People play mahjong for money, prestige, and money. If I say that breathing is more popular than gambling for Chinese people, it’s only because you can’t gamble without breathing. One thing I love about living in Hong Kong is how often you hear people ‘washing tiles,’ mixing them up after a game.
One thing I don’t love is when my neighbors do it at 3:00AM, but that’s not my point.
Because Hong Kong people love mahjong, many of them also enjoy mahjong movies.
Filmmakers like Wong Jing enjoy making mahjong movies because they’re inexpensive, easy to make, and popular.
In 2004, Stephen Chow released the hugely successful Kung Fu Hustle. Wong Jing, never one to miss an opportunity, released Kung Fu Mahjong/雀聖 the next year.
It stars Yuen Wah and Yuen Qiu, who appeared in Kung Fu Hustle.
It also stars Roger Kwok as Ah Wong, in a role parodying a character he played on TVB.
He’s kind of like Dustin Hoffman’s character from Rain Man; a savant whose math skill makes him a gambler’s best friend. But he’s also a lot like Simple Jack from Tropic Thunder; Roger Kwok goes double full retard.
Yuen Wah plays Chi Mo Sai, a degenerate gambler who wants to teach Ah Wong to become a professional gambler.
And make him a lot of money along the way.
Standing in his way is Auntie Fei, played by Yuen Qiu. She refuses to let Ah Wong follow that path.
Besides, he’s half distracted by Cheryl, played by Theresa Fu.
He likes her so he attempts to deceive her. She likes him, so she lets him think he succeeded. A relationship doesn’t have to be built on honesty, trust, and mutual respect.
Don’t ask me how I know that. Just believe me.
Since Kung Fu Mahjong/雀聖 is wholly derivative, I won’t waste time with a plot synopsis. There’s mahjong, good guys and bad guys, romance, trickery, and jokes. Every one of which you’ve seen before, but at least it’s presented in an entertaining-enough fashion.
There’s an option on the menu for Vernacular subtitles.
There are even a few surprises along the way, one of which honestly shocked me. It’s a scene that plays differently than the rest of the movie, and it’s quite literally dead serious.
On a happier note, it was a pleasant surprise to see Jade Leung on the big screen again, because she seems to get better-looking with age.
Unlike yours truly.
Wong Jing plays a small role as the top gambler Tin Kau Gor. He’s good in the role, displaying some decent dramatic chops.
There are a number of non-surprises in the movie too; Yuen Qiu does yet another Kill Bill parody complete with yellow tracksuit.
And unsurprisingly, she’s still a much more convincing martial artist than Uma Thurman. Not because she’s Chinese.
It’s because Uma Thurman sucked.
Maybe I’m biased; one of the biggest laughs of the movie for me is seeing how obviously Yuen Qiu is doubled by a man for some of the stunts. I don’t think Wong Jing was even trying to hide it.
Kung Fu Mahjong was a surprise hit, so in true Wong Jing fashion, he released a sequel.
Kung Fu Mahjong 2/雀圣2自摸天后 tells the story of a heartbroken woman whose marital problems cause her mahjong luck to evaporate.
Cherrie Ying Choi Yee plays Fanny…
Let me stop for a moment. Considering Hong Kong was a British colony, and that fanny is a British slang term for a woman’s private parts, I refuse to believe that the popularity of the English name Fanny in Hong Kong is a coincidence.
But never mind that.
Terence Yin plays Johnny, her husband.
He doesn’t seem happy to be married to her. He doesn’t seem unhappy either.
I’m not sure if that’s how the character is written of if that’s just how Terence Yin does.
Fanny’s brother Ronaldinho is played by Sammy Leung.
And four pounds of makeup.
But remember, stereotypical depictions of Chinese people are unacceptable. If you don’t believe me, ask Mohindepaul Singh, who appears in the movie.
He plays mahjong with his feet and makes the tiles smell like curry.
Philip Keung Ho Man plays Demon, the bad guy. Wong Jing returns as Tin Kau Gor, and everyone treats him as if that shocking scene in the first movie never happened.
His father, Wong Tin Lam, also appears, as a mahjong master who instructs Fanny.
That’s not a euphemism. He teaches Cherrie Ying’s character.
Yuen Wah and Yuen Qiu also return, lending their talents to a wide-ranging lampoon of Asian pop culture; Korea, Japan, and even Thailand get clowned with all the subtlety, finesse, and restraint we’ve come to expect from Wong Jing.
Maybe I’m too American, but how can anyone really be afraid of a chainsaw that’s not running?
Kung Fu Mahjong 2/雀圣2自摸天后 is a quick, cheap, and shoddy sequel meant to cash in n the success of the first movie.
But it’s not without it’s charms. Cherrie Ying Choi Yi is a lot of fun to watch as she chews up scene after scene.
She manages to convince at times, and she does have one of those smiles that lights up a room. You can’t fault her effort, because she’s obviously giving it her all.
Kung Fu Mahjong 2/雀圣2自摸天后 isn’t a very good movie.
But I don’t think it was trying to be. It was trying to make money, and it really wasn’t made for people who have high cinematic expectations.
That said, it’s not the worst 90 minutes I’ve ever spent watching a movie.
Neither, it turns out, was watching Kung Fu Mahjong 3: The Final Duel/雀圣3：自摸三百番.
And since it’s now almost 8 years later, I guess we can be sure that it really was the final movie.
Yuen Wah and Yuen Qiu return once again to reprise their roles.
Roger Kwok also returns, but he plays a different character.
I saw this movie in the cinema, but it was during one of my usual winter chest infections. I was high as giraffe p*ssy長頸鹿陰道 on cough syrup, and early in the film when I went to top up, I dropped the cap. So there I was, holding a mostly full bottle of cough syrup with no way to close it. I didn’t know what to do.
So I drank it.
All of it. To be honest, I’m not sure if it made the movie any better.
Because I really don’t remember much of what happened after that.
So it’s a good thing I re-watched this on DVD. It seemed like a new movie.
Not a good movie, just a new one.
Roger Kwok plays Ken, a mahjong hotshot whose father, a widower, runs a successful mahjong business. He also just got remarried. To a woman probably younger than Ken named Sophie.
Last name Ho. Even if it’s Leung.
Ken’s dad wants to appoint a successor. Guess who the two choices are? Guess how they’ll decide?
Guess who’s back for the third time?
Ken’s got an extra problem. His new girlfriend is apparently cursing his luck, making all of it bad. I think she cursed this movie too.
Because almost all of Kung Fu Mahjong 3: The Final Duel/雀圣3:自摸三百番 is bad. There are a few scattered moments that are chuckle worthy: an elderly woman grabbing a man’s crotch. A young child gets hit in the face for laughs. A parody of an anti-gambling PSA that was on TV when the film was released. A surprising number of subtitles that showed only the first half of the sentences.
One of the most illogical kidnappings in cinematic history. Yeah, no one will notice you chloroforming two women in the middle of a social gathering.
If that was the case, I wouldn’t be on parole.
But never mind that.