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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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