Sunday, October 13, 2013

FAT CHOI SPIRIT (2002) -
Johnnie To & Wai Ka-Fai


To really enjoy this early aughts Johnnie To rom-com, I probably should have boned up on the game of mahjong beforehand. "Thirteen Orphans"? "Three Lesser Scholars"? "Four Large Blessings"? Unless they come with a side of duck sauce I still haven't a clue. But then I'm definitely not the target audience for Asian rom-coms. Mahjong-coms less so. It was interesting to see To working in a lighter, broadly comic mode, and I marveled at his fast-paced editing of a game I knew absolutely nothing about. Imagine The Hustler redone as farce and transposed from smoky billiards clubs to high stakes mahjong tournaments. Now throw in a wacky grandmother with Alzheimer's (her scattershot memory is queasily played for laughs) and a love interest who often wears a motorcycle helmet when she's not sporting laughably obvious breast implants. Minnesota Fats...Fat Choi Spirit...I guess they're just flip sides of the same tile.

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