Saturday, August 29, 2020

Kung Fu Hustle

Movie Name: Kung Fu Hustle
Year of Release: 2004
Director: Stephen Chow
Starring: Stephen Chow, Xiaogang Fen, Wah Yuen, Zhihua Dong, Qiu Yuen, Kai-Man Tin, Shengyi Huang, Suet Lam, Tze-Chung Lam, Siu-Lung Leung
Genre: Comedy, Action
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7 

Synopsis and Review:
Following the very successful "Shaolin Soccer", actor/writer/producer/director Stephen Chow tackled another original story, inspired by Wuxia films combined with animated cartoons, in order to tell the story of a hero coming to his own, and finding his true calling. The film follows the story of Sing, a young man who roams the streets of Shanghai in the 1940s, alongside his best friend Bone. They both long to be a part of the Axe Gang, which dominates and bullies most of the city and surrounding neighborhoods. He accidentally stumbles across an apartment complex, dominated by some eccentric landlords, but as he tries to unsuccessfully leverage his non-existent power, he draws the attention of the Axe Gang to this impoverished neighborhood. When the Gang tries to squeeze these people for money, they discover a series of Kung-Fu masters living in there, who aptly defend the area. As people suffer, and the stakes get higher, Sing suddenly realizes there's more to life than being a thug and living a life that's based on other people's misery. He is forced to battle a formidable foe, hired by the gang, in order to save everyone's lives.
"Kung Fu Hustle" is the rare combination of a Wuxia film (martial artists), with a comedy, that manages to retain the action and thrill of those films, while also peppering the film with enough humor which prevents it from taking itself too seriously. Stephen Chow smartly creates his hero as a "work in progress" type of individual, someone who comes from nothing, and who thinks the seductively crime filled lifestyle will enable him to ascend to a position of power which he aims to attain. Much to his despair, both him and his best friend, are awfully clumsy, and can't get anything done properly, which makes the film the more engrossing. This combination of action, and cartoonish humor (at times almost literally, with the bodies stretching as if though they're actually cartoons), married with some old school sentimentality, makes for a film that is uniquely entertaining. It's a rare film that manages to be simultaneously a good representation of Martial Arts, with enough of a universal stance in terms of its humor, which enables it to be consumed and appreciated by different demographics (and of course, geographies). The uneven quality of the cast, doesn't prevent this from being a very entertaining and highly recommended feature.