Fat Choi Spirit Celebrates Mahjong
Fat Choi Spirit was released in 2002. This is a Hong Kong comedy film that is produced and directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-fai. Fat Choi Spirit stars Andy Lau, Lau Ching-wan, Louis Koo, Gigi Leung and Cherrie In. The film is considered to fit into the Hong Kong genre of Mahjong movies.
Fat Choi Spirit is all about Mahjong, with drawn out games, rare and terrible hands alike and the philosophy of playing the game. However, it is not completely necessary to be a practicing mahjong player to appreciate this movie, because the philosophy, jokes and lucky streaks in the film are all completely representative of any game that is a mixture of strategy and luck. And sportsmanship is universal. Having said that, there is no doubt that experienced mahjong players will get a special thrill from this film, the involved strategies and the deep examination of the game itself.
The Game of Mahjong
Mahjong is an ancient game that originated in China. It is played with a set of 144 tiles that are decorated with Chinese characters and symbols. It is even possible to play the game with cards. It is fairly similar to the western card game off rummy, and both games come from a common ancestor. Mahjong is deeply respected as a game of skill, strategy, calculation and involves a reasonably high degree of chance.
A Light-hearted Comedy with Lessons
Bearing in mind that this film is actually a comedy, and riddled with plenty of ludicrously funny occurrences and situations, Fat Choi Spirit deals with some poignant issues like sportsmanship, not giving up, the linkage between luck and belief in luck, as well as romance.
In Fat Choi Spirit, Andy Lau is the hero, and an honourable player and sportsman. Gigi Leung is the yang to his yin, she is both comedic and socially unpleasant with violent fits of rage. Gigi simply cannot handle losing a game of Mahjong, and turns tables over, breaking things and ending the game prematurely in every instance. This is why Andy refuses to marry her, and yet cannot live without her for he believes her to be the source of his luck.
In a rollercoaster of majong and luck, Andy starts off strongly, making lots of money, but then loses Gigi as well as his luck. Refusing to give up, and in defence of his younger brother who was conned out of all his money, Andy takes on the antagonist, Sean, at the huge Mahjong tournament. At the eleventh hour Gigi returns, and blessed by Lady Luck once more, Andy goes on to defeat Sean, and then is honour-bound to offer him a rematch. Andy is left with a decision to make regarding what winning really means, and even Sean has some life-changing realisations.
Back to the Mahjong Theme
Fat Choi Spirit is a worthwhile film that certainly should be seen, and the overall message is that everyone is a winner, and people of better character make for better Mahjong players in the long term. Gigi does learn to control her violent temper, much to her own betterment. The special aspect to the Fat Choi Spirit film is that it shows in a delightful way just how much a game of Mahjong can be an epitome of life.