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Mahjong Heroes
  |     review    |     availability     |


DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Intercontinental Video Limited
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital Mono
Removable English and Chinese subtitles
Trailers, Various extras

Year: 1981
Director: Lee Pooi-Kuen
Writer: Wong Jing
Cast: Patrick Tse Yin, Betty Ting Pei, Yueh Hua, Chin Siu-Ho, Lau Hak-Suen, Kwan Hoi-San, Daai Leung-Jun, Lau Dan, Tong Tin-Hei, Yue Tau-Wan, Nick Lam Wai-Kei, Chu Chi-Ling, Walter Tso Tat-Wah, Leung Jan-Lei, Chun Wong, Ng Woon-Yee, Johnny Koo Kwok-Wah, Gaan Yee-Ching, Lee Chuen-Sing
The Skinny: All-star gambling comedy which is as lightweight, cheap and unnecessary as they come. At the same time, the mahjong action may hold some thrills for the mahjong inclined. Still, this is no God of Gamblers.
by Kozo:

     Chicanery erupts when when gambling champion Yau Bun-Lap (Kwan Hoi-San) decides to retire from the field. He decides to leave his businesses (gambling parlors, natch) to his wife May (Betty Ting Pei) and godson Johnson (Chin Siu-Ho). However, May objects to Yau's nepotism, and wants all the businesses to herself. Though really just a Britain-schooled geek, Johnson wants in, and agrees to a mahjong contest to determine ownership of said business. This requires training, but it's harder than that. His efforts are thwarted by May and her adulterous partner, slimy gambler Kwok Chu (Shaw Brothers regular Yueh Hua). His best bet is legendary gambler Yin Xi-Liu (the suave Patrick Tse), who is unfortunately an elusive person to reach. If Johnson can find Yin, then he just might have a shot.
     Mahjong Heroes belongs to the dubious fraternity of eighties Shaw Brothers movies which were neither inspired nor really that interesting. The "plot" of this flick is just a randomly connected series of hijinks and happenstance designed to elicit ninety minutes of easy entertainment. Wong Jing wrote the non-existent script, which provides the same amount of narrative dexterity and excitement as a sick bunny. The acting is either annoying (Chin Siu-Ho and his fat buddy), uninteresting (Leung Jan-Nei as the pretty flower vase), or phoned in (Patrick Tse looks suave and bored). And the direction is by-the-numbers and uninspired. God of Gamblers, this is not.
     With all of the above not working for the film, it falls upon the gambling action to shore things up—which they sort of do. Though it's really not enough to make the film worth seeking out, the mahjong hijinks are decently entertaining. There might be some effort required for the mahjong-impaired. Those who don't understand the game will likely be lost, but those who follow it might be charmed by the nifty mahjong action on display. If clacking tiles and legendary combinations of mahjong pieces thrills you to death, then Mahjong Heroes has some value. It's not world-beating, legendary cinematic value, but it's value nonetheless. Look at it this way: a nickel is still money. (Kozo 2004)

image courtesy of Celestial Pictures Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen