"Kung Fu Hustle"
Directed by Stephen Chow.
Written by Tsang Kan Cheong, Xin Huo, Chan Man Keung and Stephen
Starring Stephen Chow, Qiu Huen, Kwok Kuen Chan and Siu Lung
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 4/25/05
It may look hokey in the trailer, but "Kung
Fu Hustle" really is a great time at the movies and is also a film
that you definitely have not seen before.
That's because the film is the product of a
man that is clearly insane, Stephen Chow; he directed 2003's "Shaolin
Soccer" as well, an action/soccer hybrid that apparently worked out
quite well. This time around, Chow plays Sing, a gangster
wannabe that tries to join up with the biggest, most dangerous gang
in town, the Axe Gang, led by Brother Sum (Kwok Keung Chan). This Brother's got soul, alright...he dances after he kills off
adversaries, but he meets his match when he tries to take over a
poor slum called Pig Sty Alley that is run by a crazed Landlady (Qiu
Huen). This Landlady, well...let's just say she's tougher than
she looks, and when she starts whoopin' the asses of some of those
Axe Gang boys, Sum enlists Sing to get him the world's #1 killer,
The Beast (Siu Lung Leung), who is currently languishing in prison.
The plot is whacked out, the scenes just
wacky...but, there's cool fighting built into the story arc, enough
of which makes "Kung Fu Hustle" actually live up to the
"action/comedy" billing that helps it stand out. Sure, you
have some fight scenes where the physics are utterly
ridiculous...but, the moves look so good and sound so perfect that
it makes watching the film a joy. Just the comic stylings of
the Tailor, who prances like a fairy from place to place and wears
red underwear, made me laugh; it's even funnier when this guy goes
from 100% softee to 100% badass in the blink of an eye when he helps
defend the Alley from the scumbags that are trying to take it over.
The special effects also aid in the
farce--the Landlady gets from A to B by running like she's the Road
Runner, with spinning feet instead of actual leg motions; characters
see their heads literally spin around when they get punched; hitmen
throw daggers from played notes of an oversized guitar by never
lifting a finger. Even when things turn
violent--decapitations, shotgun blasts and men getting thrown
through walls, for example--Chow keeps things fun by never taking a
single thing in the film seriously; how else could a set of golden
showers be played for laughs? Or watching a guy die, leading
to a scream-to-the-sky moment where a guy has to utter the now-dead
guy's name to no one in particular: "DONUT!!!!!"
Chow does take it too far at times, and I
felt like the Sing character's background dragged down the
otherwise-fun times had the expense of everyone. But, in
general, "Kung Fu Hustle" shines for what is clearly missing at the
movies these days--martial arts films that feature a mix of
rousing laughter and good ol' fashioned ass whoopin'. Here's
to hoping that we get a steady stream of these kinds of films and
not more freakin' shitty PG-13 horror films. Ugh.
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard