Kung Fu Hustle

"Excellent"

Kung Fu Hustle Review


Stephen Chow's Shaolin Soccer was a unique genre potpourri in which sports films, The Matrix, and science fiction animés all irreverently coalesced into a frantically funny tale of victorious underdogs. The filmmaker's signature cartoon craziness - an idiosyncratic mixture of Buster Keaton's physical comedy and Dragonball Z's lunatic action - likewise permeates Kung Fu Hustle, a similarly ridiculous medley of gangster pictures, musicals, and martial arts films. A period piece about a 1940s-era Shanghai village forced to defend itself from the oppressive mobster outfit, The Axe Gang, Chow's latest is not quite as infectiously hilarious as its predecessor. Yet this tour de force compensates for a shortage of belly laughs with an astute portrait of mid-20th century social inequality, as well as an exuberant momentum, its kinetic slapstick amplifying with each subsequent fight scene until, with its building-smashing finale, it reaches a crescendo of absurd insanity that would make even Jackie Chan gasp.

Kung Fu Hustle (written by Chow, Tsang Kan Cheong, Xin Huo, and Chan Man Keung) follows despondent wannabe gangsters Sing (Chow) and Brother Sum (Kwok Kuen Chan) - two inept bunglers with dreams of criminal fame and fortune - as their attempts to impress the Axe Gang bring chaos to the working-class town of Pig Sty. There, a screaming landlady (Qiu Yuen) and her licentious husband (Wah Yuen) maintain order and obedience with an iron fist. However, after the arrival of the Axe Gang - a group of suit-wearing toughs whose leader (Hsiao Liang) likes to orchestrate choreographed line dances after killing his adversaries - the town's landlords, as well as three seemingly ordinary men, reveal themselves to be superpowered kung fu masters. What ensues is inventive, frenzied combat of the fantastical variety, highlighted by a Wachowski-esque battle involving innumerable (and identical looking) Axe Gang members swarming Pig Sty's enclosed courtyard for a chance to vanquish the unretired martial arts heroes. Throughout such visually hectic set pieces, Chow's direction proves a model of efficiency, presenting every special effects-enhanced roundhouse kick, aerial jump and flaming fireball with a lucidity that allows for spatial coherence. Assured and exhilarating, the filmmaker's dynamic staging and blocking allows him to stretch the boundaries of his confiding frame, culminating in a high-flying, earth-shattering climax that virtually leaps off the screen.

Chow's film is like an Asian Looney Tunes short (replete with an homage to the Roadrunner) stretched to 90 minutes and blown up for the big screen, but buried underneath this madcap exterior lurks a touching David and Goliath story - its action a metaphor for class warfare - about injustice, camaraderie, and communal bonds. Similar to Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen, A Very Long Engagement), Chow has a gift for CGI-infused cinematography and a fondness for classic Hollywood romance (note the Top Hat poster behind Sing and his lollapalooza-adoring love interest), and his opening scene in Pig Sty - in which he depicts both the milieu's destitute economic condition and its numerous citizens' distinct personalities - is a mesmerizing example of directorial economy. The film finishes with a thrilling one-on-one showdown between Sing (now a kung fu master) and The Beast (Siu Lung Leung), a notorious killer with the ability to blow himself up like a bullfrog and hop at his opponents with cannonball ferocity. Yet like Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle's humanism, its sympathy for the disenfranchised little guy, its finely drawn comic book characters, and its explosive action ultimately unite to form a giddy portrait of triumphant teamwork and togetherness.

The DVD includes deleted scenes, gag reel, commentary track, and a couple of additional behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Aka Gong fu.

Fu the hustle!



Kung Fu Hustle

Facts and Figures

Run time: 99 mins

In Theaters: Friday 22nd April 2005

Box Office USA: $17.0M

Box Office Worldwide: $100.9M

Budget: $20M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Production compaines: China Film Group Corporation (CFGC), Beijing Film Studio, Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia, Star Overseas

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 164 Rotten: 18

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Sing, Yuen Wah as Landlord, Yuen Qiu as Landlady, Lam Tze-Chung as Sing's sidekick, Huang Sheng-Yi as Fong, Dung Chi-Wa as Donut - Hexagonal Staff, Chiu Chi-Ling as Tailor, as Coolie - 12 Kicks of Tam School, Danny Chan Kwok-Kwan as Brother Sum, Bruce Leung Siu-Lung as The Beast, Tenky Tin Kai-Man as Axe Gang Advisor, Jia Kang-Xi as Harpist Assassin # 1, Fung Hak-On as Harpist Assassin # 2, Lam Suet as Axe Gang Vice General, Yuen Cheung-Yan as Beggar, as Crocodile Gang Boss

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman reunite with The Switch directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck...

Snowden Movie Review

Snowden Movie Review

Here's another remarkable biopic from Oliver Stone, who has used all-star casts and intensely pointed...

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

This true story from 19th century America feels eerily relevant today in its depiction of...

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Advertisement
Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.