By Celeste Meiffren
photo courtesy of SONY PICTURE CLASSICS
"Kung Fu Hustle" - Combining kung fu (duh) and slapstick comedy, Stephen Chow's film has dazzling visuals and non-stop action.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Film Rating: 8 out of 10
"Kung Fu Hustle" kicks ass. It kicks a lot of asses, and the collective ass. It even kicks filmmaking's ass. And the asses of the filmmakers themselves. And one can pretty much be positive that the actors themselves have some serious bruising.
And when a film kicks so much ass and so many asses all around the world, it would be mighty wise to see it.
"Kung Fu Hustle" is like the last big scene of "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" mixed with classic slapstick comedy mixed with old Warner Brothers cartoons mixed with American film noir. You might think these things would be like oil and water, but they mix quite nicely indeed.
The story of the film is not the most important part or the most coherent. But the basic gist is that a gang called the Axe Gang rules most of Shanghai in the 1940s. The leader of this gang is called Brother Sum and he wants to control the entire city. The only part that he does not control is the poor district.
One day, a man named Sing walks into the poor district in the guise of being part of the Axe Gang and demands that his associate Donut get a free haircut. The barber will not be intimidated, so Sing calls the gang to his aid, even though he is not a part of it. The Gang shows up and fights the townspeople, and is defeated.
Brother Sum returns with different Kung Fu Masters and they fight and fight until the break of dawn, but the Axe Gang keeps losing. So, Brother Sum finds the number one killer, The Beast, in an insane asylum and tells him to fight the Kung Fu Masters who have come forward from the town. Then there is the climatic fight and the film is over.
In films such as these, plot development is not that important. For "Kung Fu Hustle," they needed to maintain the high-octane action, which director Stephen Chow did expertly. There was never a long pause in the action, and the fight scenes were varied and well choreographed.
The best part of the film, in fact, was the coupling of technically difficult fight scenes with technically difficult computer graphics. It was a "feast for the eyes," to quote a phrase.
"Kung Fu Hustle" is a martial arts film first and a comedy second. There are parts that are laugh out loud funny as well as remarkably well-choreographed slapstick scenes. The landlady with a cigarette permanently in her mouth brought the most laughs, but there are humorous parts throughout.
Chinese cinema keeps getting better and better, and it's making more of a splash with American audiences. This film in particular is both technically astonishing and entertaining. And what it lacks in plot development and continuity, it makes up for in ass kicking.
Don't be a square, go see it.