Mahjong

121 mins.
Directed by Edward Yang
NR
Mandarin with subtitles
1996
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Tue, 2/27

New 4K restoration.

Previously impossible to see in the U.S., MAHJONG, the penultimate film from Edward Yang (YI YI, A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY), is an acerbic, sprawling tragicomedy, a poison love letter to Taipei as a rising cosmopolis of big money, big dreams, and big cons.

Once more focusing on directionless youth, Yang depicts the four immature toughs who share an apartment and, frequently, the same women. Led by the amoral Red Fish (Tang Tsung-sheng), the crew implements a series of swindles and illicit business deals that take advantage of naive foreigners (including French teenager Marthe [Virginie Ledoyen], looking to reconnect with her older English lover [Nick Erickson]) and superstitious gold diggers (Carrie Ng).

But when mobsters seek to collect on a debt owed by Red Fish’s ex-criminal father (Kuo-chu Chang), they accidentally abduct crew translator Luen-Luen (Yulun Ke), the only member with scruples and, seemingly, an ounce of compassion for others.

In several intertwined tales of greed, violence, and shattered principles, MAHJONG examines the ways a city can grow in power and wealth while abandoning its heart and soul.