Stephen Chow has made quite the impression on the film industry over the past 10 years. With his 2001 Japanese release of "Shaolin Soccer," he took the lead for highest-grossing Hong Kong movie ever made. Well, Chow's back bigger and badder this time as director and lead actor in his latest and possibly greatest, "Kung Fu Hustle."
Having been released everywhere but the United States, "Kung Fu Hustle" has already topped "Shaolin Soccer" and is sure to double the profit again now that Americans are blessed with the opportunity to witness this martial-arts madness.
Wanna-be gangsta Sing, played by Chow, wants more than anything to be accepted into the notoriously fearful Ax Gang. It's going to take a lot of work for him to overcome his inaccurate knife-wielding techniques and make a name for himself on the streets.
At the same time, the Ax Gang is trying to gain control of one of the most coveted neighborhoods around "Pig Sty Ally," which is protected by a motley crew of superbly skilled kung fu masters in disguise. Confronted with a variety of obstacles and an ultimate fighter, rightfully called The Beast, Sing must do some digging and overcome the most challenging situations of his life.
Chow's form of movie making is called "Mo Lei Tau" in Hong Kong, a nonsensical style of film integrating a sort of cartoon-esque feel with ultra-violence and superhero-like action. In the case of "Kung Fu Hustle," he also mixes in an old Western feel and sets the story in the '30s, giving audiences a super fun story to watch.
It was surprising to find out this animation overload of a movie is rated R, and made it more exciting to watch. When directors don't have to hold back on the blood and guts, you know it's going to be a good time. In a couple of parts it's nearly comparable to the level of gore in "Sin City," although that's a big bet to call. The only thing that started to get old was the overload of slow-motion scenes, although every one of them was still cool to watch.
Not only is it an enjoyable visit to the cinema, watching this one will make you a little less skeptical of renting "Shaolin Soccer." If you didn't see the preview for that one, it looks absolutely absurd; exactly the type of thing Stephen Chow appears to have a solid grip on.
If "Kung Fu," cartoon violence and comedic action flicks rub you the right way, "Kung Fu Hustle" should move to the top of your list. You're sure to leave the theater with fists in the air.
3.5 out of 4 ramheads