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Overall Rating
4.51

Awesome60.23%
Worth A Look: 34.09%
Average: 2.84%
Pretty Bad: 2.27%
Total Crap: 0.57%

14 reviews, 92 user ratings


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Kung Fu Hustle
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by Scott Weinberg

"Stephen Chow is the Orson Welles of 'Funny Action Scenes'."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL: Imagine sitting down to watch "Airplane!" without ever having seen any of the "Airport" movies. Spoofs and satires generally don't work for audience members unfamiliar with the material being spoofed or satirized. That's how I felt while watching Stephen Chow's "Kung Fu Hustle". A lot of the jokes and references flew right over my head...but I still had a damn good time. This is an altogether insane little movie, and I mean that as a compliment.

Merry martial artist Stephen Chow has appeared in over fifty films; Kung Fu Hustle marks his sixth time behind the camera. After his last effort, the deservedly well-received Shaolin Soccer, his fans are expecting something seriously silly and astoundingly action-heavy. Kung Fu Hustle does not disappoint.

The setting is the backwater village of Pig Sty. It's 1940s China, and the "Axe Gang" is terrorizing every town on the map. When a pair of bumbling idiots arrive at Pig Sty and unwisely pose as members of the Axe Gang, they earn the wrath of the Sty citizenry and the fury of the ultra-violent villains, thereby sparking a war between reluctantly violent villagers and the ultra-animated axe-kickers.

I'm not too sure how American audiences will take to the combination of bloody violence and broad farce, but the skeptics will be the ones unable to enjoy Chow's unique blend of chop-socky and slap-sticky. Too bad for them, eh? Chow clearly has a devout devotion to martial arts mayhem and super-silly schtick, and with a different director one could see this sort of confection flop with a resounding thud. But there's such a giddy glee and childish playfulness to be found within Kung Fu Hustle that only the grumpiest of grouches will be left untickled.

Action-wise, there's some truly staggering material to be found here. Sure, Mr. Chow relies heavily on computer effects to achieve his highly-stylized approach, but nobody ever accused Kung Fu Hustle of being The Seven Samurai. This is more like a live-action cartoon, although that may be damning the movie with faint praise, seeing as how Scooby-Doo Part 2 could also be described as a live-action cartoon. Imagine a movie in which Wile E. Coyote, Jackie Chan and The Three Stooges share top billing. That's Kung Fu Hustle.

Kung Fu Hustle also seems to be a parody of old-school Hong Kong action flicks, the sort of movie that Quentin Tarantino still watches every weekend. Since I grew up feasting on American Monster Movies more than Asian Action Flicks, I found myself a little unprepared to appreciate the various references and in-jokes that Chow has sprinkled throughout the movie, but that's no big deal. Those who know this genre well will delight in the spoofy stuff, while those who do not will keep grinning for other reasons. Plus it's evident that Mr. Chow has an affection for Hollywood movies as well: one soon-to-be-dead hero quotes a famous Sean Connery character to hilarious effect, The Matrix earns an affectionate rib-in-the-elbows as well.

If "Kung Fu Hustle" suffers in any noteworthy way, it's in its decidedly front-loaded delivery. All of the best gags and the most astonishing action sequences come in the film's first half. By the time the movie winds down to its cacophonous conclusion, "Kung Fu Hustle" seems ready to drop dead from sheer exhaustion. But ultimately this adorably arcane little concoction is a no-lose prospect. Those who want to see "Kung Fu Hustle" will undoubtedly love it. Those who don't...absolutely won't.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10619&reviewer=128
originally posted: 09/19/04 04:50:29
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. For more in the 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/02/13 Atari TwentySixHundred Flaxman, totally missed the mark. This film is beautiful, fun, and exciting! 5 stars
1/05/10 stephan chow fan forever ok.. if you want to get the full effects of the movie, then learn chinese (puns and stuff) 5 stars
12/23/09 Cody This movie is one of the best I've ever seen and I am waiting for the 2010 sequel 5 stars
8/01/09 VISHNU SHARMA I LOVE SUCH MOVIE 5 stars
8/30/08 Shaun Wallner The Action was Amazing! 5 stars
3/13/08 ako excellent film by Chow with indepth understanding of the 3 level of Kung Fu. 5 stars
6/06/07 tracey chambers great movie. funny as hell. 5 stars
5/06/07 fools♫gold Die?! In this racket? 5 stars
4/18/07 David Pollastrini pretty silly! 2 stars
2/07/07 AJ Muller Drops laughs and ass-whuppins our way in old school WB style. Awesome. 4 stars
1/09/07 Drew Galletti As a kung-fu nerd, a well done, humorous homage to the genre 5 stars
12/08/06 UGB Definately worth a look - I thought it pretty funny 4 stars
7/06/06 drydock54321 just like a live action cartoon. Love that lion roar. 5 stars
5/05/06 Jason Terrible, unfunny movie. I'd rather watch a Tony Jaa movie 1 stars
3/31/06 Steb A kung fu comedy! What more could you ask for? 5 stars
2/12/06 brewt hustle me good 4 stars
1/01/06 metalhead Kung Fu Hustle is Freakin Sweet! One of the greatest movies ever made. 5 stars
11/16/05 Adrian Unique in every aspect...and thats what makes it so damn good and fun to watch. 5 stars
10/14/05 eddiejohns Funny and action-packed. I liked this combo. 4 stars
10/14/05 Indrid Cold A cross between "Crouching Tiger" and "Kung Pao"; dumb but entertaining. 4 stars
9/24/05 Mark Radburn A Kick-Ass Asian movie, A must-see 5 stars
9/22/05 Fritz Kind of amusing, but not as funny as it thinks it is. 3 stars
9/17/05 millersxing riki tiki tembo no sa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo 5 stars
9/11/05 Rever_Bear-Trap This RATING says it all! 5 stars
9/11/05 Alex Robert Rodriguez died 5 stars
9/09/05 Phil M. Aficionado The more I think about it, the better I like it; stunningly chaotic and funny and lively 5 stars
9/02/05 Zack it pretty sweet 3 stars
9/02/05 JFK great asian comedy. 4 stars
8/29/05 Quigley doesn't deliver what it promises. the CG wasn't great and neither were the fight scenes. 3 stars
8/28/05 Tom Burns This movie was amazing. 5 stars
8/25/05 Kat Scrumtrilacent with a hint of stellar. 5 stars
8/23/05 Nick Great movie.Up there with Spiderman. 5 stars
8/15/05 John Kung Fu Hustle R1 DvD is edited. Blood has been taken out and a scene has been shortened 4 stars
8/15/05 Ebru Germeyan Not even a Cartoon movie could top this movie 5 stars
8/14/05 othree next level. solid story, cast, imagery, believable cheeziness 5 stars
8/13/05 Justin Kline Funnier Than Heck 4 stars
7/17/05 Kathy terPlugg Not as good as KUNG POW: ENTER THE FIST. 3 stars
7/05/05 jim even better than Revenge of the Sith 5 stars
6/25/05 Sean Poon It has more depth than it appears to be 5 stars
6/14/05 jameth burketh Absolutely hillarious-gets better with repeated viewing. A very clever film 5 stars
6/09/05 Gray It was fun 4 stars
6/07/05 captain craig the more I see it, the more I like it 5 stars
5/27/05 juli Matrix fights ripped off Hong Kong movies to begin with 5 stars
5/22/05 Cham Like watching a live-action violent cartoon. 4 stars
5/21/05 kemalx78 very funy when i watching this i amnt boring 5 stars
5/17/05 Shawn Borucki Excellent film, Stephen Chow tops "Shaolin Soccer" with mixing gangs and land ladies.. 5 stars
5/10/05 Morrigan Matrix Ripoffs? You sir are an idiot. 5 stars
5/09/05 Ka-Poon Chan Its a very good film, a different outlook from this genre of film making! 4 stars
5/05/05 Koitus Was the urination scene REALLY necessary??? Also, MANY scenes were "Matrix" rip-offs... 2 stars
5/03/05 michaelb14 "I did'nt know The Lion's Roar could be done with a speaker!" 5 stars
5/02/05 your worst goddamn nightmare Take a bit of Loony Toons and Jackie Chan and you've got this. Sounds terrible, BUT........ 5 stars
5/02/05 Dorothy Malm quite entertaining, a lot of fun 5 stars
4/30/05 Chris Stephens This is one cool movie 5 stars
4/29/05 Titus Way cool. 5 stars
4/28/05 Uncle Salty See it. Love it. 5 stars
4/28/05 Colleen Godlrick unique 5 stars
4/27/05 Jeff Anderson A high energy, hysterical & full-throttle BLAST! More fun than all 3 MATRIX films combined! 5 stars
4/27/05 Naka God, YES!!! 5 stars
4/26/05 Whatevr Oh, dizzamn! 5 stars
4/25/05 KingNeutron Fkg awesome, wacky, goofy, sometimes disturbing, and oddly... moving. See twice! 5 stars
4/24/05 jeff not as good as house of flying daggers but still funny and awsome 5 stars
4/23/05 jakob it rocked hard. 5 stars
4/20/05 jordan can you give kung fu hustle movie 0n dvd 2004 2 stars
4/19/05 Al Guy I love it! Watch out for the Hollywood "remake". 5 stars
4/14/05 Gray this movie was great fun! 5 stars
4/13/05 Junior LaRoche Great! Sony Classics know how to release films, unlike Miramax. 5 stars
4/13/05 visual A must-see!!!! 5 stars
4/12/05 Mr. Majestyk If you can't enjoy this movie, you need a blowjob. 5 stars
4/11/05 Dan Olson Good, but not Chow's best and not worth the acclaim 4 stars
4/10/05 Vince Not overly hilarious, but fun. 4 stars
4/09/05 mahn erfa 5 stars
4/08/05 Lina Correa everyone should borrow this from their friend with the large DVD collection 4 stars
4/02/05 kran must watch 5 stars
3/26/05 Greg Ursic Outstanding!! Never have I seen that many reviewers mock fighting in a lobby. 5 stars
3/09/05 vu Awesome 5 stars
3/03/05 michael weber gwaaaaaaaaaa!!!! 3 stars
2/25/05 jandro Great and Side-Splitting funny, Chow sure knows how to tickle the funny bone 5 stars
2/12/05 anthony hilarious and energetic fun! but the script couldve used more work 4 stars
2/08/05 KEVIN TRINH A MUST SEE MOVIE 5 stars
2/07/05 Zach a must-watch! 5 stars
1/30/05 Ery amazingly beautiful and funny 5 stars
1/29/05 buddy garrett same old formula 2 stars
1/29/05 keith james CHOW (GETS) DOWN! 4 stars
1/13/05 Maya gut-busting funny, way cool fight scenes, and unpredictable. i'm now a huge fan. 5 stars
1/12/05 Josh Funniest film i've seen for ages - very stylish too 5 stars
1/11/05 Miles Bader Hits every note just right, silly and affectionate 5 stars
1/09/05 Francis Ayock Stephen Chow homage to the Cantonese Martial Arts films of the last few decades. 5 stars
1/01/05 Dominique Incredibly hilarious - far better than Shaolin Soccer! 5 stars
1/01/05 alicia yeo shi ling absolutely funny! 4 stars
12/24/04 ArQ Chow did it again! 5 stars
9/21/04 Naka Hysterical!!! 5 stars
9/16/04 Pop very good film 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  08-Apr-2005 (R)
  DVD: 09-Aug-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  11-Aug-2005




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