review by Neo

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Stephen Chow is BACK? Funny shit!
Some movies require reviews before someone goes and see it, but some movies goes the other way and by that I mean that Kung Fu Hustle is a movie that HK cinema fans will see regardless of whatever my honest, well seemingly honest opinion is. Then again, that probably only applies to Stephen Chow, as he is afterall, the KING of Asian boxoffice. Sit back Andy Lau, and calm down Jackie Chan, Chow is the man and as he was three years ago, where he suddenly swept HK by storm, he is back again, not so much to do what he did before, but go a step further, by trying to make his mo lei tau style into absolute ART. Yes, you heard me right, Chow is making his style of movies into ART and not a total mindless entertainment fun. Believe me, or should you not, Chow is developing into a pretty good director and perhaps even overtaking his ever popular style of acting. Perhaps it is a hint that his limited screen time, may well be due to him wanting to move behind the cameras permanently, while, we all hope that is not the case, it is not an entirely bad thing to do either, so what am I waiting for, let’s kick some balls, I mean kick of my review.

It’s seriously been a while, since I last reviewed, and perhaps it is almost a month since, yeah call me lazy but really I am not lazy, and I just hope I deserve a break after reviewing 12 movies in December 2004. You probably wouldn’t believe how 2004 ended, first I broke up with my girlfriend on new year’s eve and then I lost my phone in the huge crowd at the city watching fireworks, but in a rare stroke of luck in my pretty much luckless life – 2005 morning, a guy picked up my phone and gave it back to me. Call it luck or whatever, I am just not Stephen Chow. One strange reason, why I am talking about all these bullshit about my own life, is that it does leads to the main and key reasons that I love Chow movies. Firstly life is random and does not make sense in a lot of occasions = Chow’s mo lei tau, secondly and not lastly, life is too complex, confusing, too much planning this and that and world is losing its meaning, see how people – all they want is money nowadays, they forgot one vital aspect of life – the purpose of life – have fun and enjoy every minute of it. This is why I love Chow’s movies, his movies are ones that you can have a shit day or whatever and go to the cinemas or watch a dvd and allows you to escape from what you call – seemingly reality. Call me a loser for wanting to escape from reality, but can’t I just do that for 2 hours away from all the ongoing unfixable and unsolvable problems of this damn routine and meaningless world. Actually I do not think that the world is meaningless, but I just hate the commercialism that has overshadowed everyone’s mind.

Wow, two bloody paragraphs and I still haven’t started my review, but then again, as I have said so clearly before, whether this movie is good or not in my opinion is not important as you guys who bother to read this has either already seen it or is going to see it anyway. Okay, let’s get to the point, this movie can be described as weird and the feeling that leaves you is not the typical happy go lucky Shaolin Soccer, but a movie thinking type of one, perhaps it is just me, but it is a movie that warrants a second viewing or perhaps it is just a simple minded yet confusing movie in a good and bad way. If you think the CGI effects are cool in Soccer, then you will be bedazzled by Kung Fu, because it is just so amazing to watch and to me it is worth the price of the admission, watching this production is like watching an over 200 million US production. NO kidding, that’s how amazing it looks.

As some of the feedback I heard had said that this movie not only has style but also substance, and undoubtly, I can certainly witness this, but as a movie on a whole, does it deserve its boxoffice takings, well probably not. As a movie it is not that great and nothing like Chow previous movies, but it is something special about it, perhaps it is the homage it made to Bruce Lee, and also parodying Matrix and HK movies and even cartoons, but ultimately, the movie doesn’t connect and the humor is constantly lacking for a Chow movie, and as you can see my panning right now, you are probably thinking that I don’t like this movie. As a matter of fact, I don’t, but I don’t hate it either, but it leaves me pretty much the same feeling that I had for Throw Down earlier last year, and if that’s the case, this movie will require a second viewing in order to do it the truest justice.

The performances of Stephen Chow is a more mature performance, well that’s comparing to all his 90s movies. A performance of an action star rather than a comedian, and as a matter of fact, it isn’t an absolute positive comment from me. Chow is no action hero, and it doesn’t take a genius to work that out, as who goes into a Chow movie for Kung Fu, for kung fu we rather watch Jet Li, but for comedy is what he is good at. Perhaps he is aiming of the subtle level of comedy, but whatever he is doing, the overall cast outshines Chow to almost and regulates him to a rather small supporting role.

All in all, this movie seems like an underdeveloped movie, whether it is intention or not, it is a movie that will not work, if not for Stephen Chow. Seriously if not for Chow, the audience will find anyone else way and heaps harder to root for – as we become worry who will be the next Chow and who will be the next boxoffice king able to save HK cinema?

Clearly this is a mo lei tau movie, and there is no way I can pass this movie as coherence, as it is not. This is a parody, a homage, a tribute and more importantly a Stephen Chow movie. Just his steer presence nowadays, excites the audience, I am sure that almost no actor in the world can actually do that with such ease – not even Chow Yun Fat, Jet Li and Jackie Chan can do anything near to Chow. No matter what character he plays, the audience will root for him and as brainwashing his presence seems, even I, Neo the so-called reviewer or critic can not stop but cheering his every move.

The action sequence in this movie is by all means top notched and the CGI effects are not only amazing but surpass even Hollywood. While the clear exaggeration might shut off non-Chow fans, but the CGI shows that HK cinema is still very much a burning flame. The supporting actors of Yuen Wah and a cast of unknown and a cute Chinese girl, all enlightens the movie in their own special way and as for Chow, he is not more than really a supporting actor here, but his appearance alone make him the star of the movie.

Hong Kong movies was dead a few months ago, and the movie that I call 10/10 just can not compare to this one on production values alone. However, this is a Stephen Chow movie and it will be rated on a scale of Chow’s movies and as far as it goes it is not the best but certainty not far from the best. While Shaolin Soccer touches the inner flame within the audience heart, Kung Fu, takes HK cinema to a new age, an unpredictable age of humanity, making a film that appeals to the widest ever from arts to kung fu to Hollywood to even his fans. While I had mixed emotions seeing it the first time, I say to truly review this movie will require a second viewing, but for the mean time, this is a HK movie that can not be missed, as if you don’t watch it, you don’t like HK cinema.

I rate it 8/10

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Director: Stephen Chow
Starring: Stephen Chow, Yuen Wah
Length: 120 minutes
Year: 2004
Reviewed by Andrew (Neo), January 2005