Review: KUNG FU HUSTLE 功夫 (2004) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Review: KUNG FU HUSTLE 功夫 (2004)

Review: KUNG FU HUSTLE 功夫 (2004)

Set in 1930s Shanghai, KUNG FU HUSTLE revolves Sing (Stephen Chow Sing-Chi), a loser whose biggest ambition is to join the infamous Axe Gang, lead by the notorious leader Brother Sum (Danny Chan). The Axe Gang is the most feared gang in the nation where they control everything from casinos, night clubs and restaurants. Which is why Sing adores the gang so much. So in order for Sing, together with his dimwitted tubby sidekick, Bone (Lam Tze-Chung) to get their credit for the Axe Gang to approve them  both, they make a stop at Pig Sty Alley, a low-cost housing compound owned by the cigarette-chomping Landlady (Yuen Qiu) and her sleazy husband, Landlord (Yuen Wah). Sing and Bone try to bluff all their way to cause some stir over those local slums by pretending as Axe Gang members. But little they do realise, the Pig Sty Alley happens to be a place where few retired kung fu masters resided here. It doesn't take long before all hell breaks loose when the real Axe Gang members arrive, wrecking havoc. And out come three kung fu masters, including the gay Tailor (Chiu Chi-Ling), the labourer Coolie (Xing Yu) and the baker Kuai (Dong Zhi Hua), in which each of them possessed different martial art styles. All three of them manage to take down a large score of Axe Gang members and totally leave Brother Sum shell-shocked. So Brother Sum's advisor (Tin Kai-Man) brings in two hired killers simply called as the Harpists (Gar Hong-Hay, Fung Hak-On) to wipe out Tailor, Coolie and Kuai, with their deadly Chinese harp. In the meantime, Sing and Bone keep trying to find a way to impress Brother Sum to join his gang. Along the way, of course, Sing stumbles back Fong (Huang Sheng-Yi), his mute love interest they have parted for a long time. Back in their childhood, she was once saved by Sing from a gang of bullies. Ever since then, she treated him as her hero. And now she grows up working as an ice-cream vendor. Then there's the Beast (Leung Siu-Lung), the "official" world's top killer who has been killed countless opponents in his past but none of them proved to be a worthy challenger. He is now in a mental asylum until Sing released him to deal with the Landlady and the Landlord. Unfortunately, not even a combination of the Landlady and the Landlord can bring down the Beast. Surprisingly enough, it turns out that Sing actually possesses valuable hidden kung fu skills inside him, waiting to be unleashed and he's apparently the one and only capable of defeating the Beast. 

REVIEW: In 2001, actor-writer-director Stephen Chow Sing-Chi has rocked the HK cinema by turning his SHAOLIN SOCCER into the highest-grossing movie ever collected in the local box-office. And guess what, he does it again with his highly-anticipated follow-up, KUNG FU HUSTLE, an excellent tribute to old-fashioned kung fu genre of the 1970s that blends well between a clever parody and an all-out action extravaganza. What's more, as upon release, the movie broke box-office records and a sequel is already in talks.

While the overall plot is nothing more than your standard mo lei tau genre convention, what sets KUNG FU HUSTLE apart from other wannabes is Chow ever-innovative and fresh approach to turn an otherwise predictable effort into something out-of-this-world experience. A die-hard kung fu fan ever since he was a child, Chow has certainly put a labour of love to showcase some of the most dazzling martial art displays ever graced in the cinema. With superb choreography by Yuen Woo-Ping, the action is top-notch. What's more, Chow uses extensive special effects so imaginative to enhance the physicality and energy of his action sequences as over-the-top as possible without being too cheesy. 

On the comedy side, there's all the usual stuff you can expect from Chow but surprisingly only a few of them are very hilarious. Which is quite strange, of course, considering this movie happens to do better in the action department instead. 

Then it's also quite sad to see Chow himself relegated to a secondary role. Still, he manages to come up a fine ensemble from the rest, including Yuen Qiu, Yuen Wah as well as Chow's regulars -- Lam Tze-Chung, Danny Chan and Tin Kai-Man.

Though not perfect by any means, KUNG FU HUSTLE remains a spectacular entertainment that deserved all the massive hype.

Stephen Chow's highly anticipated follow-up to his award-winning SHAOLIN SOCCER is spectacular yet hilarious action comedy that pays tribute to the yesteryear's kung fu genre picture.

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