(Edward Yang, Taiwan, 1996)


Edward Yang's Mahjong disappointed some devotees of his earlier work, but for me – as a newcomer to Yang at the 1997 Rotterdam Film Festival – it was an utter delight.

This acidic comedy of sexual and monetary manners runs on some cruel fuel – particularly in its depiction of the myriad ways in which cocksure men exploit gullible women – but everything, including initial positions of class and gender, comes around for reversal and debunking by the end of the twisted tale.

Yang's style is a beguiling mixture of virtuosic mise en scène, dexterous mood-switching, intricate multi-character plotting, and an almost clunky amateurishness, particularly in relation to some of the performances.

But, for me, this unstable brew creates a potent charm – and who can forget the sight of a sooky young male crying non-stop for about the last quarter of the film, solely because he finally relented and let a woman kiss him on the lips?

MORE Yang: Yi Yi

© Adrian Martin March 1997

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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