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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 29.81%
Average: 1.92%
Pretty Bad: 1.92%
Total Crap: 9.62%

7 reviews, 62 user ratings

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Shaolin Soccer
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Chris Parry

"Imagine the cast of The Matrix put together a soccer team... hell yeah!"
4 stars

The name rang a bell... Shaolin Soccer. Somewhere in the dark recesses of my head I remembered that this film was going to get a US release sometime this year, and that it had broken box office records in Hong Kong. And there it was, for sale on eBay for $6. Heck, I'd probably spend that much to see the movie in the theater, so getting the DVD ahead of the theatrical release would have to be a decent deal, right? Well little did I know just how good a deal this would be. I haven't had so much fun watching soccer since the last time I streaked.

Hong Kong comedy king Stephen Chow (God of Cookery, Gorgeous, Tiger Claws III) writes, directs and stars in this weird mix of martial arts, CGI, comedy and sport, and in the process has put together a flick that will undoubtably be a cult classic (and probably a long running franchise). Chow is Iron Leg, a student of Shaolin Kung Fu who is struggling to spread the word of his chosen art. His former temple buddies are all losers, having forgotten what they knew about fighting and sunk into mainstream society gigs that suck.

One (known as Iron Head) works for a mobster cleaning a nightclub, receiving humiliating orders daily. Another has ballooned in size and works in a grocery store where he's been dubbed Lazy Pig. Yet another pretends to be a high-flying businessman when it's clear he's a stiff. And so on and so forth.

But they're in luck. A lame drunk meets Iron Leg and is astonished by his skill. This lame drunk used to be a soccer star, but his leg was busted up by the crowd when he screwed up a fixed game. Having sunk to the lowest level, he sees the Shaolin student and his brothers as his way back.

And so begins the Mighty Ducks, Hong Kong style. The group of losers is forged into a team that will tackle all comers, using their martial arts skill to win soccer games on their way to take on Team Evil at the National Championships.

Which is all really not very important. What's totally important is that this movie is fricking COOL! Using CGI effects basically from start to finish, not to mention wire-fu, the screen is often a blur of fast moving soccer balls, high-flying players, very nice camera tricks and comedy that defies description. If you're a soccer purist, you're going to be busy rolling your eyes at the artistic license taken with the rules of the game, but that would be to completely miss the point. When an attacked has the ball in front of the goalie and stops, shoots him a Bruce Lee look, rears back and pounds it at the goals, only for the keeper to karate chop it back at him, it's not about whether or not this could happen in real life - it's all a big laugh.

Take for example the goalkeeper on the Shaolin side. He comes out onto the field wearing a bright yellow jumpsuit, a la Bruce Lee, and proceeds to give the Lee 'hand summon' to any attacker that comes close, before batting away any shot with martial arts moves. Of course, the ball goes right back to the attacker who peppers more shots at the goal, all of which end up back at his feet, until the attacker lets fly a shot that propels the keeper back onto his own crossbar.

See, it's ridiculous, it defies logic, but you don't care. When the keeper for Team Evil is beaten by a shot, he karate chops the goalpost, causing it to momentarily bend backwards and elude the ball. When another attacker takes a shot on goal, his shaolin strength cause a shockwave to emanate from the ball as it goes, blowing the shirt of the keeper.

This is, of course, all very ridiculous, but it's performed in such an enjoyable visual style and with tongue planted so firmly in cheek that you just go along with it, just like we did in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. With references to Jurassic Park, ET, Face|Off and the best martial arts films of the last 20 years, this is a film that often feels like an extended Nike commercial, but also gives you the thrills of a video game.

The plot behind Shaolin Soccer is silly. The romantic interest, laughable. The scene set-ups, amateurish. The dialogue, at least in the poorly subtitled version I saw, beyond terrible.

But imagine if you will a soccer team comprising of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Jet Li. Now imagine their games were broadcast by The Wachowski Brothers. If you wouldn't pay $6 to watch that team play, you're a bigger fool than I.

It will come to your screens in 2003 and when it does you MUST take a large group. Shaolin Soccer won't win any Academy Awards (though it did win the Hong Kong Film Critics award for Best Picture and bring in $60m in Hong Kong alone), but it is a movie just built to be laughed with, laughed at, and seen by people who want to have a good time. Shaolin Soccer is demented... Bring on Shaolin Soccer II.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 02/15/03 20:41:45
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 San Francisco Asian-American Film Festival. For more in the 2004 San Francisco Asian-American Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Tribeca Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/03/11 Glenn Extremely funny, cool visuals, with touching subplot with the (stunning) Vicky Zhao. 5 stars
1/06/10 Асд похудеть найти любовницу быстро, Голодание как способ похудеть, knqet, Сколько есть чтобы похудеть, 5 stars
1/19/09 J S Good, but the subtitled Hong Kong is much better. It was like watching a different movie. 4 stars
1/12/09 Shaun Wallner Awesome Story! 5 stars
4/30/07 tolga film muhteєem abi.. (perfect) 5 stars
3/22/07 lui was an amazin' film very intreaging.. 5 stars
1/24/06 Bleach Cinematic equivalent of toxic waste 1 stars
1/19/06 J A Amazing! Stephen Chow is the best theres is. 5 stars
9/27/05 John J. Fantastic stuff! 5 stars
9/19/05 Naruto Overuse of dumb F/X. Total bullshit 1 stars
9/10/05 Tind Min Grossly overrated movie by Rubbish movie 1 stars
9/02/05 Tom Burns This movie has some great action. 5 stars
8/25/05 Connor Anybody who doesn't rate this a 5 fails at life. 5 stars
6/28/05 sbpat21 hilarious 5 stars
5/27/05 juli Great movie 5 stars
4/26/05 brody this is funny as hell 5 stars
4/26/05 slikedges A film of real gravity? Way too cool for that! Totally gravity-free ferocious fun. 5 stars
1/21/05 Gina Louise HILARIOUS. A great into to Stephen Chow's genius. 5 stars
11/09/04 Alaric L another funny film from stephen chow 4 stars
10/23/04 LilyM Not a laugh a minute, but has enough funnies to make it worthwhile. 4 stars
9/10/04 Vince How did this thing ever gather 50%+ Awesome votes????? 2 stars
8/27/04 OtakuAaron Good Movie. Fun to watch and goofy humor. 5 stars
8/22/04 Rob People can be so dumb sometimes...come on, this movie is just stupid. 2 stars
8/17/04 Herolder Way too silly 3 stars
8/12/04 kc pretty bad for stephen chow standards, hes much better than this 4 stars
8/01/04 Wank It would be a whole more lot of fun in chinese actually 4 stars
4/29/04 Zach Best. Soccer. Movie. Ever. 5 stars
4/28/04 Eilan brin a few friends w/ you to the theater to watch it; you'll laugh your pants off 5 stars
4/26/04 ken fantastically fun, creatively stimulating and inspiring 5 stars
4/06/04 cinkcool Funny as horse shit on Hilary Clinton 5 stars
4/04/04 da hood ive never seen anything more fucking stupid.... i mean. fuck! 1 stars
3/31/04 Janeen Thong Fantastic! Go see it 5 stars
3/28/04 mark im a jew 4 stars
3/22/04 Thomas Watched this film on the airplaneit was so funny, I would definately watch it again! 5 stars
3/11/04 Bingo was his name-o Takes a while to kick off, but it's a great fun sports/chop socky flick. 4 stars
10/11/03 Fee Moua this movie is fucking tight as hell 5 stars
9/15/03 Wayne This is what Stephen chow is all about.....halarious 5 stars
9/10/03 Elkan now THAT'S how you make a movie!! 5 stars
9/06/03 Nigelmanselone KILLER KIK! 5 stars
9/01/03 dickson it rocks!!!! 5 stars
8/29/03 doug GREAT see it now! 5 stars
8/29/03 Omnibarn Sell your house, pawn your dog, knock off a 7/11 to buy this movie! 5 stars
8/20/03 GlitterAnjel THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST MOVIE I HAVE EVER SEEN!!!!! 5 stars
8/16/03 Jon Hehee, this movie is a riot. Go watch it with your friends! 5 stars
8/03/03 shaolin_gurl this movie is great...very funny..i own tha movie. it's a greart movie to watch with frens! 5 stars
7/09/03 I am always right BEST comedy EVER. 5 stars
7/09/03 Zoodle The action is so fast that you have to watch it twice to catch the subtitles. 5 stars
6/22/03 InDenZ Actually made me feel involved in a footty match-hard thing to do 5 stars
6/18/03 Hatake Kakashi This is one of the best and funniest film i've ever seen. 5 stars
6/14/03 justin marvelous 5 stars
5/31/03 Bloody Vixen Made me interested in football, for a very-very brief while... 5 stars
5/26/03 David Dam Awesome movie .. brought tears to my eyes from laughing 5 stars
5/24/03 Joey I adore this movie ! Story is sweet, CGI effects perfect and acting is adquate. I love it ! 5 stars
5/19/03 Den This movie is soooo stupid!! But I like it anyway 5 stars
5/06/03 Milton Stephen Chow is the man!!! 5 stars
4/22/03 Tinsy Pixie It is a stupidly hilarious film! Call me stupid, but I love it! 5 stars
4/08/03 Win Martin Hilarious - comedy is as accomplished as the kung fu. 5 stars
3/30/03 Mark Clloway ohhhhh what a rush !!! GREAT MOVIE!!! 5 stars
3/04/03 Dr. Collosus Soooooo funny! 5 stars
2/20/03 Mixx Araneta "This is one wildly insane movie!" 5 stars
2/16/03 Monster W. Kung Uneven, to say the last. The soccer part is fantastic, some other jokes are embarrassing. 3 stars
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  02-Apr-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 24-Aug-2004


  29-Jul-2004 (PG)

Directed by
  Stephen Chow

Written by
  Stephen Chow
  Kan-Cheung Tsang

  Stephen Chow
  Vicki Zhao
  Man Tat Ng
  Patrick Tse
  Yut Fei Wong
  Kai Man Tin

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