Mahjong Nights: Movie Review

Surprisingly, "Mahjong Nights" by Lawrence Fajardo showed a lot of potential in its first few scenes. It had the elements to not only just be a sensual film but it had the blueprints to say a lot about the abuse towards women (and their empowerment). Frustratingly, "Mahjong Nights" couldn't hold itself back from its more carnal instincts and sadly devolves into just a senseless sex film affair.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc in the country and it has affected businesses and families alike. Alexa (Angeli Khang) is a budding chef who has turned to online classes to further her studies. Her stepfather (Jay Manalo) had a lot of business but most had to close down and is now struggling to make ends meet while her mother (Mickey Ferriols) is having her friends (Liz Alindongan, Jamilla Obispo, Arnell Ignacio) over to play mahjong. As everyone plays mahjong with each other, dark secrets are uncovered and shows that each one isn't as innocent as we assumed them to be.
You would think given its title that mahjong would play a central role in its story but the game of mahjong wasn't really that important at all. Unfortunately, this was the same sense we felt with most elements in the film. It will deceive you at first sight, giving a hint of what could have been, but decides to take the cheapest, senseless, and most deplorable route instead. Don't get us wrong though, we get that this is an experience centered around sex and there's nothing wrong with that. But the film incessantly teases nuanced topics such as online gambling, abuse, politics, and even the pandemic that could have made this about sex and more than sex at the same time. More than that, "Mahjong Nights" was just unbelievably silly and incomplete in terms of its narrative. The ending in particular showed how rushed and incomprehensible its story was. Suddenly, it ends without any clear conclusion to the fates of most of its characters. If we could pick one thing that we loved in "Mahjong Nights", it would be Jay Manalo. Whenever he came on-screen, the dread and the terror was just so tangible and palpable for some reason. If you want to be entertained with a film that is just about the flesh then "Mahjong Nights" might satisfy you mostly. Everyone else should avoid it. 
Rating: 1 reel

Why you should watch it:
- Jay Manalo was just damn scary in this film

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- It could have been about sex and more than sex at the same time
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