Edward Yang's Mahjong is film that is hard to describe, a quasi-comedic satire of a city in Taipai that reaps the benefits of an economic boom, though the comedy is routinely transcended by Yang's seething commentary on globalization, capturing how it's essentially economic imperialism. The film features a convoluted narrative with a host of characters primarily made up of European businessman and the Taiwanese underworld, with their paths crossing in more ways then one. Languages, cultures, and classes collide in Mahong's dizzying narrative, with Yang making a statement about the current state of his country. Tonal shits come at a rapid rate, jumpimg from violent gangster flick to poetic drama, as Yang seems to using the narrative and characters as a device to express his theme. Nearly every character in this entire film is selfish or outright greedy, from the European businessmen who want in on the economic boom, to the youth Tawainese gang who makes a living scamming people. Morality, friendship, and even love are trumped by the power of greed in Mahong. The one real exception ot this rule is the romantic story arch involving the young Frechwoman and contemplative Luen-Luen, one of the Taiwanese hoodlums, that serves as one of the few relationships that resonanted with me. For all the great aspects of Mahjong, the film does suffer at times, being terribly uneven, but it's a film I somewhat forgive given it almost feels by design. While I would probably say this is my least favorite film from the talented Tawainese filmmaker, Mahjong is a one of a kind film that feels out the norm for Edward Yang, being a hate letter to the town he grew up in.
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