But to most American moviegoers, Shaolin Soccer will be their first glimpse at the clever Mr. Chow's work; and it's been a long time coming. While Shaolin Soccer was released in Asia in 2001 and has gone on to become one of the continent's biggest blockbusters, Miramax has been fumbling with the American release for nearly two years now. At first, the plan was to cut the well-tuned kung fu spoof down a half hour, dub it over with English actors, and re-edit it so it could earn a kid-friendlier PG rating. Thankfully, the Miramax folks have come to their senses, even if it took this long to do it.
Continue reading: Shaolin Soccer Review
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.
Continue reading: Kung Fu Hustle Review
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