Movie Review: King of Mahjong 《麻雀王》

Movie Review: King of Mahjong 《麻雀王》

With the Chinese New Year arrival, the local cinemas are offering many Chinese New Year greeting movies to entertain movie-goers in this 2015.

So which movie should you watch this Chinese New Year?? Well, I was lucky to tag along movie / lifestyle blogger Tiffany Yong to two Chinese New Year movies so I shall give you my opinion on the two movies I have watched.


 King of Mahjong 《麻雀王》
King of Mahjong
King of Mahjong

A Malaysian production with several heavy weight cast members from Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, this movie tells a story of two disciples (played by Mark Lee and Chapman To) of the King of Mahjong (played by Eric Tsang) finding out that there is more than winning and losing in the game of mahjong; it is merely a game, a form of entertainment.

King of Mahjong Movie Stills
King of Mahjong Movie Stills (Credits to Tiffany Yong and CloverFilms)

Mark Lee portrayed the fame and ‘must-win’ hungry character Wong Tin Ba; an extremely unhappy man even though he had all the riches he wanted. Chapman To, on the other hand portrayed a simple and happy go-lucky character Ah Fatt who gave up Mahjong after realising the pursuit of his happiness.


Mark Lee as Wong Tin Ba  (Movie Stills credits to Tiffany Yong and CloverFilms)
Mark Lee as Wong Tin Ba (Movie Stills credits to Tiffany Yong and CloverFilms)

The conflict of the two disciples came to a face-off finale in the Mahjong King competition, where Tin Ba broke away from his obsession of the game and find his true happiness.

The simple story surrounds the game of mahjong, a popular gambling game where Asians are very familiar with and is often played during the New Year or other important occasions.

Chapman To as Bai Zhong Fatt (Movie still credits to Tiffany Yong and CloverFilms)
Chapman To as Bai Zhong Fatt (Movie still credits to Tiffany Yong and CloverFilms)

The core of the story actually touches on the concept of “牌品” , an attitude you bring to the mahjong table which often reflect truly on oneself of their life. Being someone who knows little on mahjong, the familiarity of the different winning combinations does help one to enjoy the movie better.


My Rating: 4/5 ****
TL;DR REVIEW: funny, great for mahjong lovers


Review about King of Mahjong 《麻雀王》

The storyline is easy to understand and with the mix of Cantonese, Mandarin and Singlish, the movie has a strong local flavour. With all those army, navy movies by Jack Neo recently crowding the local cinema screens, this film is pretty refreshing, a break away from those franchise movies.

I am amused with the scattered titbits throughout the movie, like Mark Lee’s woody woodpecker laugh, Chapman To’s simpleton smile and of course, the 3 scholars yong tau foo. And with that, I can never view yong tau foo the same way again. lol~

Being unfamiliar to Chinese New Year movies, I find that the movie has too many random characters, and the movie only gave an “need-to-know” basis on the background of each of main cast, many with little or no background at all.

I later found out this is predominant in classic Chinese New Year movies, where usually a CNY movie emphasize more on the variety of celebrities in the movie having random roles than significance.

However, unlike classic Chinese New Year movies, this one has a strong plot, a light-hearted story flow and leaving something for audience to think about; something is different from a nonsense light-hearted comedy.

Mahjong King Cast (Stills Credits to Tiffany Yong and CloverFilms)
Mahjong King Cast (Stills Credits to Tiffany Yong and CloverFilms)
Interesting filming techniques

The movie opens with an aerial shot, probably using a drone as the visual was shaking pretty badly, but overlooking that fact, the aerial shot was pretty good. Tracking and pan shots also seems to be the director’s favourite, but I felt that those are pretty overused.

The director also played with long takes. I recalled there was more than one, but the most memorable one was this particular scene where Ah Fatt (Chapman To) was speaking to Adrian Tan (he played the role of a teacher who has a huge crush on Ah Fatt’s daughter) in Ah Fatt’s house. The shot traces the conversation of the two man from the front of the house to the back of the house and into the kitchen.

That long take was memorable because of the tight corridor space where the camera first rest in front of Ah Fatt then pan 180 degrees to follow behind him towards the kitchen.

Ah Fatt and family having lunch (Movie Still credits to CloverFilms and Tiffany Yong)
Ah Fatt and family having lunch (Movie Still credits to CloverFilms and Tiffany Yong)

Another interesting technique was the use of slow-motion to emphasize emotions. While this technique is also overuse, I love the scene where the ah Fatt’s family all sat around for lunch; the slow mo emphasis was on Ah Fatt’s wife, Ramona (played by Ye Xuan) savouring the moment of family happiness.



This movie is pretty worth to watch and it will be more entertaining if you know the rules of mahjong. The story is easily to follow and understand, with a couple of laughs and puns that are mahjong related as well as being close to heart with the usage of language in the film.


Check out their trailer:



Check out the movie’s FACEBOOK PAGE for more related videos.

Check out my friend Tiffany Yong’s King of Mahjong Movie Review here!


King Of Mahjong (麻雀王‬) is out in cinemas on 19 February 2015.



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