Kung Fu Mahjong
Hong Kong 2005
Directed by Wong Jing and Billy Chung.

Is Wong Jing the last filmmaker in Hong Kong regularly churning out entertaining films? It sure seems that way. Here he is with another production that is far more entertaining than it has any right to be, another in his perpetual gambling series, of which he turns out roughly one per year whether anyone really wants it or not. This time the series gets a shot in the arm by swiping the cast (and several of the gags) from Kung Fu Hustle.

Gutter-bound gambler Chi Mo Sai (Yuen Wah) stumbles across Ah Wong, a waiter with astounding memory abilities (Roger Kwok), and senses he's got himself a golden ticket. He trains Ah Wong in the ways of gambling, but his Auntie Fei (Yuen Qiu, lifted straight out of KUNG FU HUSTLE, complete with the dangling cigarette and angry attitude) doesn't want him to gamble and spends much of the movie pounding on Yuen Wah. Everything culminates in a dramatic MahJong tournament finale. The glorious Jade Leung makes an appearance as a "good" gambling master, Wong Jing as the "bad" one -- in one of his most entertaining performances of late. Theresa Fu is the love interest, and a variety of other KUNG FU HUSTLE refugees fill out the cast.

Wong Jing seems to be the only producer left who still considers Hong Kong cinema relevant. He produces films by Marco Mak and Billy Chung, two of the best "B" movie genre directors. He parodies and rips off other Hong Kong movies, assuming the audience has seen them and can appreciate the jokes. In the past couple years, when Media Asia continues to produce slick, soulless action films hoping for international appeal; when Johnny To has focused on "Johnny To cinema", never mind Hong Kong; Wong Jing has been making movies three or more a year, as if Hong Kong cinema is just as lively as it has ever been. I can't say that Wong Jing is Hong Kong cinema's saviour, but he is at least keeping it alive in 2005, more than any other filmmaker.

Rating: Recommended (Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on October 25, 2005.

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