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Edward Yang’s penultimate film is an acerbic, sprawling tragicomedy, a poison love letter to Taipei as a rising cosmopolis of big money, big dreams, and big cons. Once more focusing on directionless youth, Yang depicts the four immature toughs who share the same apartment and, frequently, the same women. Led by the amoral Red Fish (Tang Tsung-sheng), the crew implements a slate of swindles and illicit business deals aimed at naive foreigners—including French teenager Marthe (Virginie Ledoyen), who is looking to reconnect with her older English lover (Nick Erickson)—and superstitious gold diggers (Carrie Ng). But when mobsters seek to collect on a debt owed by Red Fish’s ex-criminal father (Chang Kuo-chu), they accidentally abduct translator Luen-Luen (Lawrence Ko), the only crew member with scruples and, seemingly, an ounce of compassion. In several intertwined tales of greed, violence, and shattered principles, Mahjong examines how a city can grow in power and wealth while abandoning its heart and soul.
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