Review Date: April 07, 2005
Director: Stephen Chow
Writer: Stephen Chow, Tsang Kan Cheong, Xin Huo, Chan Man Keung
Producers: Stephen Chow, Po Chu Chui, Jeffrey Lau
Stephen Chow as Sing
Kwok Kuen Chan as Brother Sum
Qiu Yeun as Landlady
The Axe Gang rules the Asian streets with their bloody fists and their sharp…axes, but when they fall upon the small, impoverished town of Pig Sty, they find out (the hard way) that being poor doesn’t necessarily mean being wimpy, as a number of the town’s seemingly shleppie working folk, shift their gears into “kickass” and proceed to instill that sentiment onto all unwelcome newcomers. Bing, bang, boom!!
The best way to describe this movie would be in one simple word that will convey what its makers were obviously attempting to put forth with their creation and that word is “fun”. If you like your martial arts done wacky and over-the-top, if you enjoy cartoony characters – landladies who can run at the speed of light, contract killers who can attack while seemingly “transforming” into frogs, uber-skilled fighters kicking the shit out of every attacker around them, while pinball machine sounds chime every time contact is made, and many others – if you like a mélange of specific movies all squashed into a frivolous bit of entertainment, marked by many scraps, many cool special effects, many wire-fu antics and a good helping of humor to boot, you should have no problem enjoying this motion picture, with all of its hamminess, camp and Looney Tunes essence, qualifying it as the most “cartoony” film of the year (without any actual animation). That said, that same sentiment can be put forth for anyone who does not like camp and cartoony fights and goofy humor featuring lots of slaps against the face and feet being squished into flatness, as this film is really not one to take seriously (at all!), so if you’re going to sit there and wonder how one man (ironically, a man known as “The One”) can battle a zillion baddies and kick every one of their butts a la Neo in THE MATRIX RELOADED’s “Burly Brawl” sequence, you’re likely to find your sort of movie enjoyment elsewhere.
In my case, I enjoyed much of the film, particularly its very cool-cat music (loved the groovy swing tune that jumpstarts the film off on a gangster tip), its many eccentric characters, its humor, its many original fight sequences, as well as its ability to really stick to its intent, and never pretend to be anything more than a fun time at the theater. Believe it or not, a very small subplot based around a childhood lollipop memory also worked on a basic emotional level for me. The film’s plotline isn’t a phenomenon, and I can’t say that I was entirely bowled over by all of the film’s effects/fights since it seems like we have seen many of them in other forms and films before, but KUNG FU HUSTLE still managed to slap it all on a cartoon plate, with Looney Tunes – the road runner in particular – shining through in a number of the film’s more memorable sequences (I love when the landlady is running at a 1000MPH and flies into that billboard, a la Coyote, and drips down ever so slowly) and plenty of homages to other films, if you know your shit. Its final 20 minutes are also a blast, with a showcase of one of the grandest and most over-the-top fights to be splattered on the big screen in years. A damn good time! Watch it with your kids (G-rated fun all the way), watch it with your drunk buddies or watch it with your lady-friend in order to impress her with your interest in “foreign films”. One thing’s for sure, if you love cartoons, martial arts, humor and fun…this flick’s for you.
(c) 2013 Berge Garabedian