Mahjong Dragon
MEI AH
 
Starring:
Directed By:
David Lai & Yuen Kwai
Year:
1997
Run Time:
97 mins
Producer: Mei Ah
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Languages:
CANTONESE Mono
Subtitles:
English and Chinese BURNT-IN
W/S Subtitles:
Yes
Ratio:
1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
Region:
NTSC 0
Genre:
Action/Drama/Comedy/Martial Arts -
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MOVIE
6/10

Very rarely do I fail to provide a plot synopsis for my film reviews.
On those rare occasions, it's usually due to one of two things: either the film has little, to no, plot to speak of, or it would spoil some of the surprises in store.
Mahjong Dragon however, provided a new challenge.how do you summarise a plot when you have no idea what's going on?
I honestly had no idea what was going until the final ten minutes, and even then things still remained hazy.

Aside from this poorly developed plot, this 1997 production also features a mish-mash of characters that never really establish themselves.
Siu Fong-Fong is the only actor of any great substance, as the middle-aged policewoman whose gambling addiction is getting the better of her. Some generally understated and reasonably funny comedy punctuates the film, with Fong often taking centre-stage.
Added to this is a romantic plot involving Chiu Man-Cheuk's super-gambler 'Quick Hands'. Whilst Chiu has little to offer acting-wise, there is little doubting his fighting ability.

Some beautifully staged set pieces make their way into the production, with fights taking place in and around fruit-markets, car washes and building sites. However, whilst the fights' settings make an impact, the choreography doesn't.
Much of this must be put down to Man-Cheuks' ability to pull off the more brutal movements afforded his character. He looks great in period films, where his Wu-Shu styled moves fit in well, but he's never made a convincing switch to modern day movies.
Ken Lo however proves what a wonderful villain he can make, as Quick Hands' arch rival.

Although the film tries to be far too many things at once - a drama, an action movie, a gambling flick, and a romantic comedy - it remains extremely watchable thanks to David Lai, Yeun Kwai, and their teams' superb direction and cinematography.
Having highlighted the downfalls of the film's fight sequences, the fact remains that they are still incredibly tense and dramatic affairs. It's this lack of consistency that ultimately devalues the best points of the film though, making the ride an exciting but frustrating one.

PICTURE
4/10

This early Mei-Ah transfer will make any DVD devotee weep.
An incredibly photographed production is generally paid tribute with a well-coloured transfer, but that's as far as it goes.
A soft print, which lacks detail in almost every frame, is also riddled with nicks and marks.
Artifacts and motion blur are also evident on a transfer which you'd be hard pushed to say looks any better than VHS.

SOUND
4/10

The original mono soundtrack is serviceable without ever sounding particularly impressive. Some of the film's music can sound shrill at times, although the action scenes retain their punchy sound effects.

SUBTITLES
7/10

Having been treated to removable subtitles on almost every DVD I own, it came as a shock to start reading these old-style burnt-in translations.

MENUS
1/10

By far the easiest menu review I've ever had to write.because there aren't any! The film starts straight after the disc loads, and that's it!

EXTRAS
1/10

Nothing at all.

CONCLUSION
5/10

Despite the DVD's, and the plots' shortcomings, I can't deny that I enjoyed this viewing experience.
David Lai's ability to direct with verve and imagination, the films' commendably upbeat epilogue, and the fact that it's heart is firmly in the right place, aren't quite enough to make this required viewing.
However, for those of you that particularly like one of the leads, or want lessons in cinematography, Mahjong Dragon is a film worth gambling on.

MOVIE 6/10
PICTURE
4/10
SOUND
4/10
SUBTITLES
7/10
EXTRAS
1/10
MENUS
5/10
PACKAGING
1/10
OVERALL 5/10