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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 Lucas Stensland

"Chow Scores Again!"
4 stars

Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle is a great follow-up to his Shaolin Soccer, a film whose cult following seems to be growing every day. His films have an old-fashioned slapstick vibe along with the aesthetics that have jump-started the martial-arts genre in recent years. In Kung Fu Hustle (great title, by the way) one will find entertaining characters and more people flying through the air than in The Aviator.

The film begins at a police station where cops are being thrown around by a ruthless gangster who they dared to detain; the thrashing and mocking the police receive seems to understandably dismiss the cops from the rest of the picture. That gangster walks outside and is hacked to death (though in cartoon-like bloodless violence) by a rival outfit called the Axe Gang. We are then introduced to Sing, a homeless inhabitant of Pig Sty Alley, the Skid Row of a fictitious Chinese town. He is a wannabe member of the Axe Gang, yet his lack of killer instinct prevents him from being initiated. When the Axe Gang gets word that Sing and his harmless chubby friend have been posing as fellow gang members, they come looking for a little rumble. As it turns out, Pig Stye Alley houses many in-hiding kung-fu masters who come to Sing's defense. The story is very simple and to reveal more would only detract from the enjoyment of watching it.

The film summons recent U.S. hits like Kill Bill and Gangs of New York as well as one of the greatest of all American icons: Bugs Bunny; a very Warner Bros. chase occurs and it's probably the most goofy moment in a very goofy movie. One could keep counting references (A Clockwork Orange also comes to mind), but perhaps Charlie Chaplin is the greatest of the Hollywood touchstones, because his none too subtle demeanor and incredibly sincere and sweet humor seems to fill the world of Kung Fu Hustle. As seen here and in Shaolin Soccer, Chow, like Chaplin, will demonstrate mankind's humanity in the character of a common tramp.

Chow is very much like Chaplin, but neither as innovative nor as willing to invest in much of a sociological perspective. Although he has a penchant for making heroes out of tramps, Chow never exhibits the indifferent upper-class. The Axe Gang is ostensibly comprised of the formerly poor turned criminals. This material that pits the poor against a ruthless and lawless hegemonic gang is ripe for a sympathetic subtext regarding the disenfranchised. Instead we are led to believe that if the poor are left to themselves (and to fend for themselves) they will not only take care of each other but will be incredibly happy.

The film's strength obviously doesn't rest on its themes but on its good nature and cinematic flourishes. Its narrative is just a trajectory of one-upmanship, with each kung-fu master meeting a rival who performs the kung-fu equivalent of "Denied!" One might take this as a smart parody of the entire world of martial-arts cinema, where cyclically one well trained fighter gets his or her butt kicked by a better trained fighter. However, this type of storyline gives the film an episodic nature that might leave some of Shaolin Soccer's fans underwhelmed. The predecessor's generic (albeit fun) yarn (which repeats the formula of such films as Major League and Bad News Bears) obviously appealed to many western viewers' sensibilities, though Kung Fu Hustle is more of the old-school martial-arts variety.

Last year's Napoleon Dynamite and Chow's films seem to exemplify a new upbeat development in the world of escapist geek cinema, which is currently offering dystopian flicks seemingly on a weekly basis, e.g. Saw, The Grudge and White Noise. The darkness of those films is surely honorable and in tune with this political landscape but it's in threat of losing its spirit by becoming an insincere and redundant product of the studio system: the expression of youthful hopelessness produced by executive decision.

In this modern dark age, Chow's warm purely-for-pleasure attitude not only serves the purpose of amusing the jaded but is a welcome breath of fresh air.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10619&reviewer=390
originally posted: 01/27/05 17:07:23
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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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