Mahjong Dragon (1997)

All over the place but entertaining
Reviewed by Simon on 2001-10-11

Directed by either Corey Yuen and David Lai or Jeff Lau, depending on whether you believe the credits at the start or the end of the film. Zhao Wen-Zhao is "Quick Hands", a God Of Gamblers type who ends up in prison after taking revenge for a friend who was killed. Once out, his main rival (Ken Lo) wants to either kill him or recruit him, neither of which appeals to him. He decides he wants to flee to Hong Kong. Josephine Siao is a cop with a gambling problem, who is believed by the village to be jinxed, a bad luck charm. Her uncle tells her to go to the mainland to seek a husband, to break the jinx. This brings her together with ZWZ, whom she marries on the agreement that he will teach her his gambling tricks. But Ken Lo isn't going to let him escape so easily...

The film is kind of all over the place in mood and plot, which is kind of charming. It feels more like a film that was made 5 years earlier. Zhao carries off his role quite well, not seeming nearly as arrogant as he does in his later ultra-low budget films like The Blacksheep Affair. The fight scenes are pretty well done - sped up and chopped up a bit too much, but with some great moves visible amongst this. There's some quite funny moments in the film too, with Sandra Ng and Blackie Ko and a particular young Triad providing the best of the laughs, and Josephine just behind. The highlight of the film is definitely the final showdown between Ken Lo and Zhao Wen-Zhao, which is quite inventive and well staged. All in all, worth a visit for sure.