For the most part, I like my martial arts films to be as realistic as possible, but I have no problem taking a walk on the cinematic wild side, especially when the special effects are as impressive as those in this film. Kung Fu Hustle can't be compared to any other single movie or genre. Regardless of its excesses, the martial arts action in the film is something to behold. Underneath all of the comedy and over-the-top visual delights (and it can be almost cartoonish at times), there's also a seriousness to the film. It's all about good vs. evil, self-realization, and stepping up to meet your destiny. And, as much as I hate to say it, I thought the ending was quite sweet. The extraordinary special effects dominate the film and any viewer's discussion of it, but don't let that fool you into thinking there isn't a substantive story behind all of the flash.
The toughest hombres around are the members of the Two Axe Gang; put a Japanese face on John Dillinger, give him a pair of axes, and you've the old-time mobster look and feel of these guys down. They usually leave the slum areas alone, but Pig Sty Alley, run by a seemingly wimpy landlord and the toughest landlady you'd ever want to meet, ends up in the gang's crosshairs thanks to a couple of bad guy wannabes (and perpetual screwups) trying to insinuate themselves into the gang. Sing (Stephen Chow) desperately wants to be a bad guy, having paid a price as a child for trying to live up to his destiny (a rather questionable one, at that) of bringing peace to the world. The landlady's mean attitude isn't enough to hold off untold dozens of axe-wielding gangsters, but the town is saved by three kung fu masters who had moved there in search of a peaceful life. Rest assured there are repercussions, as the Two Axe Gang brings in some of the world's most deadly killers to exact revenge - starting with a pair of musicians with a unique, decidedly deadly playing style. Later, they have Sing engineer a breakout of the Beast, the deadliest killer of them all. He doesn't look like much, but the Beast is an almost unstoppable force. The only person who can possibly take him on with any chance of success is a natural-born, kung fu genius - and those are pretty darn rare.
The special effects of the many fight scenes go way beyond the kind of wire work seen in, say, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and also out-Matrix The Matrix; on occasion, you'll see stuff right out of Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Does this make the movie too goofy for its own good? Somehow, it really doesn't. If you're going to go to the extreme with your action, you might as well go all the way - and that is most certainly what Kung Fu Hustle does. From a chase right out of Road Runner cartoons to the perfectly ridiculous Toad Style of fighting perfected by the Beast, you'll laugh - but you'll also be in awe at how well the scenes play.
Basically, Kung Fu Hustle is just a complete hoot of a movie. As writer, director, and star, Stephen Chow has produced a pure winner capable of entertaining fans across a range of genres. Even he cannot steal the limelight from Leung Siu Lung, however, as this landlady, with a cigarette perpetually hanging out of her mouth, truly roars - both literally and figuratively.
Being a chow fan myself, I must say this is by far the best work he's done. I was absolutely captivated and immediately at home in this very foreign place. This film is so strangely retro and yet tangible. Stephen Chow's name has been around the Chinese cinema for more than twenty years. His special style of dry humor is not only known but also recognized by Chinese viewers as his trademark and uniqueness. It's only until recently with the release of Shaolin soccer did people around the world started to take notice of this Asian pop icon. But when we thought it couldn't get any better, he surprised us with this masterpiece, Kung Fu Hustle. I have never laughed so hard, yet come away feeling as if I had been uplifted.
The effects are fierce, and yet organic. The characters are strong, vivid and effective. The imagery and magic of the story and scenery and amazing overwhelmingly inspired soundtrack blend. It's like this film picks you up and never puts you down, doesn't miss a beat, and never spends a fraction of a second too long in any one spot.
Viewers will find themselves drawn into the fantasy world of Kung Fu with funny, fascinating characters that blow people's mind away. References to Forrest Gump, The Matrix, Silence of the Lambs, traditional Chinese Woosha novels can be found in many scenes. I also find myself laughing so hard in several parts. Most of the jokes are easy to understand for they are usually short phrases or body movements. This allows general audiences around the world to get pass the cultural or language barrier and enjoy the atmosphere it's creating. The action scenes are also visually stunning according to the design by famous action designer Yuen Ho Ping (Responsible for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and The Matrix trilogy). But being a Kung Fu watcher, I personally thought it would've been even more superior with less CGI.
Overall I give it 5 stars. It's probably the most entertaining Chinese film to date. This one will sure save a spot for Steven Chow in the history of Asian cinema.
le 24 mars 2006
The reason I love it is because about halfway through I suddenly find myself being an 8 year old kid again, laughing and cheering and jumping up off the couch and shouting "LANDLADY, YEAH!!!" every five minutes at the top of my lungs. It's not every movie that can evoke that kind of response from me, and so for that reason I truely love this film.
le 11 mars 2006
I saw this recently and it was a breathtaking movie. Lots of humor, excitement, and REAL quality CG. At some point, you will cry during certain scenes, I know I did.
I highly recommend this movie to anyone who likes kung fu classics or new age renditions. Steven Chow does a beautiful job directing. He's currently making the sequel "Kung Fu Hustle 2" which is estimated to begin shooting in late 2005, early 2006. This is a movie you will not regret seeing. This movie is a timeless classic and it is a MUST HAVE to any DVD collector.
le 5 septembre 2011
This movie is absolutely a masterpiece from Stephen, including the soundtrack, plot, and everything in it. Definitely worth to own it. I've watched it like 100 times and I'm still not tired of watching it again. Love you, Stephen, for bringing us such a great movie. Although my mother tongue is Mandarin, I learned to understand Cantonese by watching his original Cantonese movies. Can't love you more, Stephen. Looking forward to seeing your next movie....
le 18 avril 2008
I caught part of this movie on Space a few months ago. I decided that I would pick up the movie if I could find it. The movie is very original, funny and action packed.
I quite like "bad" kung fu movies from the '60s and '70s and this is cheesy, but in a good way. Some pretty neat action sequences - the special effects are put to good use and make the film very enjoyable to watch!