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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 Collin Souter

"Hey, Stephen Chow! Get over here and promote this film! IT'S GREAT!!!"
5 stars

NOTE: This review refers to the original Hong Kong version. The Miramax version has yet to be screened. Miramax has said that they are postponing the American release of Shaolin Soccer indefinitely until director Stephen Chow can make it overseas to help promote it. Miramax has also decided to release it subtitled instead of dubbed, due to protests from fans who, no doubt, saw the trailer.

The Sports Movie genre only has so many possibilities in regards to storyline. You have the Underdog-Makes-Good storyline (the original Rocky), the Misfits-Make-Good storyline (The Bad News Bears) and the Misfit-Makes-Good storyline (Rudy). All of them make good because thats why you go see a Sports Movie. Sure, you know how it will end, but if the characters have charisma, well-defined conflict and a strong sense of purposeand if the sport has been depicted so as to maintain your interestthen so be it. The whole thing boils down to not so much that the team/player wins, but HOW they win. How fresh and surprising will it be? With Shaolin Soccer, its familiar storyline only enhances the limitless possibilities of its chosen sport.

Shaolin Soccer follows all three storylines and if youre a budding screenwriter and follow the formulas closely enough, you cant go wrong. First, you start with the down-on-his-luck coach, in this case a would-be soccer great named Fung, a.k.a. Golden Leg. 20 years have passed since he had his accident involving his legs getting pummeled with bats by the opposing team on the soccer field. His current boss, Hung, who now owns a soccer teamThe Evil Teamtreats Fung like the scum at the bottom of his shoe. Hung has no chance of ever returning to the soccer field to achieve greatness.

Next, you move on to the star player looking to make a buck, in this case Shaolin Mighty Steel Leg, a street cleaner who only has one wish: For Shaolin kung-fu, as emulated by his hero Bruce Lee, to be the latest fad. He tries to spread the Shaolin way through singing and dancing about it in a nightclub, but it just doesnt have the desired effect. He meets up with Fung and presents to him (and us) why Shoalin would be a valuable asset even to the most conservative citizen (i.e., it makes parallel parking a lot easier and slipping on a banana peel more dignified).

Finally, once the Shaolin peanut butter filling has landed in the chocolate soccer cup, you have to assemble your misfit team. In the case of Shaolin Soccer, they all come from various backgrounds (Stock broker, grocery clerk, etc) and they all earn their respective titles as First Big Brother, Second Big Brother, Third Big Brother, and so on. All have their unique talents on the playing field and each one gets to shine. Oh, and you should also throw in a potential love interest. In the case of this movie, Fui, a dowdy girl who hides her acne-ridden face behind a thick sheet of hair, works best with her hands, which, as we all know, is the one thing you cant work with on a soccer field. Or can you?

With Shaolin Soccer, you can pretty much do anything. But what is it, you ask? Shaolin Soccer takes the sport of soccer and adds flying, dragons, fire, breakdancing and tornadoes. A ball can be kicked into the air and you might not see it come down for a couple minutes. It takes skill, precision and a profound sense of the absurd. There really wouldnt be any need for a jumbo-tron in a stadium that houses Shoalin Soccer, because the entire field comes into play. David Beckham wouldnt know what to do with himself.

The final and most important ingredient you would need for your sports movie is a unique and consistent sense of humor and/or drama. Shaolin Soccer is a comedy and a damn funny one. Shaolin Mighty Steel Leg is a goofy character, one whose determination overwhelms his sense of humility. A scrimmage match between two teams has a great visual punchline and the final act of bravery by one of the main charactersthe big turning point for the final big matchis wonderfully sweet, silly and altogether awesome.

To some American audiences, Shaolin Soccer might look a little shoddy in terms of special effects. They dont look particularly real or polished. Yet, I think the half-finished look of the effects fit the tone of the movie. I like to think of this movie as live action anime. If you watch Japanimation and fire suddenly appears behind a warrior character to emphasize his/her mystique, do you question it? No, and you shouldnt here, either. This movie laughs with its audience while giving them good reason to stand up and cheer. It has fun with the Sports Movie conventions while also expanding them a bit. If John McTiernan had seen Shaolin Soccer before he made Rollerball, things might have turned out differently.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 09/04/03 14:23:16
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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 , , knqet, , 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 muhteem 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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