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Kung Fu Hustle (Gong fu) (2004)

  Directed by: Stephen Chow
Written by: Tsang Kan Cheong, Stephen Chow, Xin Huo, Chan Man Keung
Starring: Stephen Chow
Links: Kung Fu Hustle on the IMDb, Official site
Genre: Action

This movie gets: 10.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Kung Fu Hustle (Gong fu) (2004) is also mentioned in timchuma's review of Fantasia (2004), timchuma's review of God of Cookery (1996) and timchuma's review of Sixty Million Dollar Man (1995).

"Better than Shaolin Soccer" - a review by timchuma

With Asian films becoming more popular, the term "better than Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)" or "Kill Bill Killer" is going to be worn out before long. In this case, the only thing you can compare a Stephen Chow movie with is another of his movies, as they are so different to anything else out there.

This is quite a departure from the type of movies Stephen Chow usually makes. For starters, his usual partner in crime, Man Tat Ng isn't in the cast, and it is a lot more dramatic and action-packed. The character Stephen plays isn't even the main focus of the movie for most of it.

The movie has a really great setting. Even though the city is not mentioned specifically, it does bear a passing resemblance to 1920's Shanghai, which was well known for its gangsters. It reminded me a lot of Jackie Chan's Project A (1983), and also Mr. Canton and Lady Rose (1989).

What makes this movie really special are the colourful characters. Even the bad guys in the Axe gang are cool, with their stylish top hats and funky dance moves with an axe in hand.

The stand-out characters for this movie are the Landlord and Landlady who look after the "pig sty" slum that gets into trouble with the Axe gang after Stephen's character impersonates a gang member. It also turns out that three kung fu masters are living in the slum incognito and they beat up the gang when they arrive.

If you have seen any "one man challenges the mob" type movies, you will pretty much know the plot. It is done with such energy and enthusiasm that it is easy to see why this movie was such a big hit in Hong Kong.

One thing I should warn people about is that this isn't really a family movie like Shaolin Soccer (2001) was, as it is more violent and bloody (a cat gets cut in half, for example). It is not overdone like in Kill Bill though, as there is also a great cartoon type chase where the Landlady goes splat on a sign after running like Speedy Gonzales.

As with his last one, there is quite a bit of CGI in this movie but it is not used gratuitously. I only counted a couple of bullet-time type effects, one of which was used to show how fast "the Beast" is: stopping an actual bullet with two fingers when he fires a revolver at his head on purpose.

This movie does not really have laugh out loud moments of comedy like in his previous movies, but the comedic element is used very effectively throughout the movie. My favourite funny scene was Stephen's character trying to choose slum residents out of the crowd who all turn out to be different than they look in the line-up (the funniest one was the little kid with big muscles).

As this movie is distributed by Columbia, it is going to get a wider release than others like it. However, I expect some of the scenes to be cut from it (like the scene showing kids pissing on the young-kid version of Stephen's character). Hopefully it is not as bad as the Miramax version of Shaolin Soccer, and they resist the urge to use the song Kung Fu Fighting on the soundtrack.

This is sure to be one of the best Asian movies released this year, and I would recommend it even if you haven't seen a Stephen Chow movie before.

timchuma gives this movie 10 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 22 Mar 2005

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Reader comments

  1. This movie rox so hard I needed surgery. It is everything the Matrix-sequels tried to be (in terms of action) and has much better philosophy too..

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from mikey (http://ap0phenia.com) on Tue 22 Mar 2005 17:13 #

  2. Kung Fu Hustle was on of may favourite moves in the 2005.I like Stephen Chow; I’m Stephen chow’s fans. Kung fu hustle is great fun. There’s a lot of funny character in the film, most of this gang from shaolin soccer are also in kung fu hustle, this movie rocked! It was very funny and a lot better than ShaoLin soccer. It was an accident to have the dancing sequence in kung fu hustle. To make a kung fu film is like a dream come true, because I’m big fan of kung fu movies. That’s why [I picked this]; because I like this, (that’s why I made it. It’s simple).

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from jing jing on Tue 07 Feb 2006 00:20 #

  3. this movie is so funny that i laugh my head off.........

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Eric on Wed 08 Feb 2006 20:29 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 9.67 (3 ratings)

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