FU MAJONG (2005-HK)
review by Neo
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"Majong Saint" Kwok!
The gambling genre have always been a favourite genre for Neo, and when thinking of gambling movies, no one can beat the master - Chow Yun Fat in God of Gamblers, his look, presence, and coolness gave life to a genre that does more harm than good. Not only does he glorifies the genre, but also probably inspire millions of HK people to go back to casinos to probably lose their house and shit. Sure Stephen Chow was bankable and launched his career with a spinoff parody, and later his counterpart - Nick Cheung attempted to con HK into thinking that he is damn cool. So after a couple of years without a gambling movie, and combining the successes of Kung Fu Hustle, Wong Jing realise the need to do something or cash in on something and here he does it - copying the formula that made God of Gambler instant classic, but somehow the result is almost incomparable to its predecessor, however that's not to say this movie is not entertaining as it is actually quite enjoyable.
The story goes like this: Wong (Roger Kwok) can locate all 144 mahjong tiles after playing three hands and regardless of how the mahjong tiles are reshuffled. Together with Uncle Gat, he wins big money in the casinos of Macau, catching the attention of big time hustler Mr. Baa (Yuen Wah). Wong falls in love with Cheryl (Theresa Fu), Mr. Baa's mistress. Mr. Baa gives them such a heavy beating that Wong becomes an imbecile. Auntie Fei (Yuen Qiu) uses Mahjong Shock Therapy to cure Wong and trains him to become a grandmaster of Kung Fu Mahjong. At the Asian Mahjong Competition, Wong gets his sweet revenge by scoring a decisive win over Mr. Baa.
Reviewing a movie like this, that reminds you of the gambling movies in the past, can be a good and bad thing, but comparing it to early 90s is absolutely irrelevant and therefore in just watching this movie, there is no doubt that Wong Jing knows his stuff when it goes to gambling and it is exactly where the film succeed. HK people likes gambling and while the film will not turn or set the boxoffice on fire, but there is certainty enough interest to fill some cinema seats, which will easily surpass the prediction of a HK movie site that predicted it will be a "bomb". However an element of the movie that is well conceived and copied from Chow Yun Fat's mental state, is the performance of Roger Kwok who reprise his role as Ah Wong from the TVB series - Square Peg where he played a mentally retarded character. Here he does exactly that and succeeds in it, just as he did so successfully in the TVB series. A superstar in TVB nowadays, his move to the big screen comes at a good time, when leading man or fresher face is limited, and despite not being a newcomer, Kwok and along with other established TVB stars like Alex Fong, Gallen Lo and Dayo Wong provides new faces for HK cinema and along with experienced acting.
The movie is an instant fun to watch especially every scene that Yuen Wah and Yuen Qiu is together, and just as they demonstrated in Kung Fu Hustle, they have a terrific chemistry and their slapstick humor is undeniably more funny than annoying. While there are obvious and needless parody of Bruce Lee and Kung Fu Hustle - gravity defying, it is so lighthearted that it brings out some sort of laugher rather than groan at it being rip-offs. The plot is almost needless to discuss, and for the first time in ages, Wong Jing presence in the movie does not make it worst, but actually make the movie more of a fun ride.
Keeping this review short as there isn't a lot to say about this movie, as it is basically something that we have seen many probably have seen before, but with the gambling movies in recent years such as Fate Fighter and Conman 2002 being so absolute bullshit, this one stands right above it, not in originality, but basically mindless fun and for it not being annoying at all. The Yuens are always fun to watch and add some insignificant emotional plotline in the middle of Theresa Fu and the fun and likable performance by Roger Kwok, this movie is already a ship ahead of many crap movies that have been produced so far this year. While as I say before this is by no means a great movie, and it is obviously cashing in on the successes of Kung Fu Hustle, the movie somehow succeed to be a fun time killer to watch, despite not being original at all. Sometimes, it doesn't work, but this time Wong Jing actually did a credible job and as for a sequel, I actually wouldn't mind at all. As for Yuen Wah and Yuen Qiu, just go and make another movie real soon!
I rate it 7.75/10
on this movie on HK Neo Reviews Forum
Genre: Comedy/ Gambling
Director: Wong Jing, Billy Chung Siu-Hung
Cast: Yuen Wah, Yuen Qiu, Roger Kwok Jun-On, Theresa Fu Wing, Wong Jing, Jade Leung Jing, Iris Wong Yat-Tung
Reviewed by Andrew (Neo), June 2005