Yang’s angriest and most provocative film, Mahjong follows middle-class con-men and petty criminals who wind up getting involved with the real underworld, which turns out to be far less romantic than they anticipated. The film centres on a young French woman (Virginie Ledoyen) who follows her British lover to Taiwan in the hope of continuing their affair. Instead he prefers to while away the time with a Chinese girl, who isn’t exactly Einstein. The Parisienne falls into a listless affair with Leun-leun (Ko Yu-lun), who belongs to Red Fish’s gang. Red Fish (Tang Tsung-sheng) has his own problems: underworld thugs are watching him because his father owes them $100 million. Comic and horrifying, poignant and biting, Mahjong is a vision of hell that argues passionately for the possibility of redemption. As the characters ricochet through the film it begins to resemble a mad screwball comedy, but its darker vision comes through as well, painting a portrait of a lost generation whose search for a solution causes even deeper problems.
Taiwan, 1996.
English subtitles.
Dolby stereo.
121 mins.

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