Image credit: ew.com
We were left scratching our heads about the mah-jong scene in Crazy Rich Asians so we dug into it and discovered just what went down!
SPOILER ALERT! We hope that you’ve already grabbed your tickets to watch Crazy Rich Asians, and you, like us, must be scratching your heads as to what the mah-jong scene really mean. It’s understandable that you were confused as to why Eleanor looked so shock when Rachel revealed her hand at the end of the showdown since mah-jong is really not an easy game to understand. So we’re here to break it down and explain to you just what the final battle between the two strongest characters in the movie meant.
First let’s take a look at their sitting positions, in mah-jong there are either three or four people around a square table. The four sides of each square are known as North, South, East and West. You have ultimate control and domination over the person sitting on your right because you can choose what to discard from your deck and the person on the right relies on your discarded tiles to form their winning combinations. Take note that Rachel and Eleanor are sitting on opposing sides of the table.
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If you haven’t figured by now, Rachel actually had the winning hand but she didn’t unveil her hand and instead she decided to discard tiles that would help Eleanor form her winning hand. Eleanor managed a “pong” or also known as a “three of a kind” tile match in one of the first discards Rachel made. That “pong” set the tone of her game as all she is required is another two more sets to end the game.
After a rant from Eleanor on “kaki-lang” and making it very clear that Rachel does not belong with the Young Family, the camera cuts to Rachel drawing the eight of bamboos. By this time Eleanor already has two eight of bamboos and requires just that last one to make her final “pong” to win the game. It is only now that Rachel’s hand was revealed to us, she hasn’t taken anybody’s discards making her tiles completely self made, this means that Rachel will gain additional points.
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But that is beside the point, Rachel’s hand is made up of bamboos in six, seven and nine and a mixture of red dragons and north wind. This means that Rachel already has the winning hand over Eleanor, all she needs was the eight of bamboos to win the round. Instead of putting the tile in her hand, she decides to discard it allowing Eleanor to quickly absorb the tile and win the round.
The mystery has finally been solved! Only a mah-jong player would have understood the reaction of everybody at the table when Rachel revealed her tiles while the majority of us just understand that Rachel willingly conceded to Eleanor. So does this solve your questions?
Side note, now that you know that the mah-jong table sides are named according to cardinal directions, we would like to announce that you guessed it! Eleanor was immediately offered the East wind seat while Rachel remained in her West wind seat. The seating position represents the continents that each woman represents.