Mahjong at Nengkoy’s & The Crazy Rich Asian Movie Scene

Mahjong is my family’s game played in Nengkoy’s house very Friday night.  The shuffling sound of mahjong tiles reverberating inside my mother’s living room area every Friday night is literally a weekly occurrence.  Every child of Nengkoy (including me) does in fact know how to play this old and traditional Asian game.

And every member of my family seated to play this game would in some way transform into someone different.  We would be more focused, more fierce, somewhat smart and strategic as if in a funny attack mode.  This is especially true with Nengkoy.  She would be so engrossed, she would not mind a word you say if you try asking her what she has done all day or what food has she prepared for dinner.

With our being so well versed with Mahjong, it was easy for us to process and easily understood the mahjong scene representations made by the director of the movie Crazy Rich Asians when my whole family watched this groundbreaking movie last Saturday.

strategize….
nengkoy! pong!
rachel chu playing mahjong scene in crazy rich asian

In that mahjong scene between the characters of Rachel Chu (the NY-based Asian-American) and Eleanor (the overbearing matriarch and fearsome mother of Rachel’s boyfriend), we right away understood that Rachelle did the ultimate sacrifice when she let Eleanor win the mahjong game.  Rachelle gave up her love, would-be wealth and basically her future with Eleanor’s son.  She picked the needed 8-sticks tile to win the game yet she threw and discard it away so that Eleanor could win.

My whole family laughed when we heard Eleanor (played by Michelle Yeoh) uttered “Pong!”  The scene would have actually been better if the characters can do the “sinasalat” act.  It is a classic mahjong act in which players would be able to determine the tile they picked without looking at it but by merely using the sense of touch, i.e. by sliding the tile’s character through the player’s finger tips.

If in other Asian movies the fight scene can be so literal – in the form of Karate, Judo or other martial arts – I consider the mahjong scene in Crazy Rich Asian as the ultimate fight scene between the protagonist and the antagonist of the story.  This scene actually unleashes the dragon in Rachel and ultimately tamed the bitchiness of Eleanor.

channeling the eleanor young in me

I was seated beside Nengkoy inside the movie house when Rachelle picked her “puro” (the needed tile to win).  I heard Nengkoy say, Todas na Sya! Bunot Pa! (Translation: she wins! and with a higher pay).

And since mahjong is played by my family every Friday night, the mahjong scene in Crazy Rich Asian even made me further love this delightful film.  The movie was definitely a Todas! Bunot! All-Up! and Syete Pares!

Todas!

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So Much Reasons To See Crazy Rich Asians

I have to admit, the major reason why I wanted to watch the movie Crazy Rich Asian was because I wanted to see Kris Aquino, my country’s mega queen of media.  But since the lavish movie was so engaging, I almost forgot the reason why I wanted to see it.  Until she appeared in her beautiful yellow gown playing the role of the ultra-rich and toffee-nosed character of Princess Intan. 

kris aquino with constance wu

Crazy Rich Asian is such a heartwarming movie.  I was actually teary-eyed in some of the scenes because it featured cultural elements that seem so close to my being.  Also, I was so happy to see this delightful movie because at last Asian characters are on the lead (not mere sidekicks) and Asian actors are not performing the gag-worthy Hollywood martial arts scenes.  I am actually considering this film an Asian celebration!

I may not be crazy rich (because I am a crazy reject Asian) but I nevertheless saw bits and pieces of me in numerous characters of the movie, the gutsy-ness of Rachel Chu, the being-a-friend-to-depend-on of Peik Lin, the softheartedness of Nick Young and of course the bitchiness of Eleanor Sung-Young. 

I was at awe when Kris Aquino appeared and was glad to know how pivotal her role was.  But the movie’s characters and its message made me further love this film.  I laughed with the characters, I cried with the characters and I fell in love with the characters!  The movie clearly screams that though there would be headaches and hurdles, you can chase your own happiness even without sacrificing your values and tradition.

Ang Yaman!