Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Movie #326: Kung Fu Hustle

Kung Fu Hustle is a weird little martial arts/comedy movie starring (and directed by) Stephen Chow, and co-starring Wah Yuen, Zhi Hua Dong, Siu-Lung Leung, Qiu Yuen, Chi Ling Chiu, and Xing Yu.

Most of the action takes place in Pig Sty Alley, a poor neighborhood ruled by a loudmouth, chain-smoking, fast-running landlady (Qiu Yuen) and her hapless husband (Wah Yuen). The bloodthirsty Ax Gang rules the streets, and Sing (Chow) desperately wants to be a member, to the point that he impersonates them. This leads to a fight in which the gang does battle with the residents of Pig Sty Alley, including three incognito kung fu masters - Coolie (Xing Yu), Donut (Dong) and Tailor (Chiu).

The Gang retaliates by hiring outside talent to kill them, and then by freeing the Beast (Leung), a badass so powerful that he voluntarily went to prison to try and find someone to challenge him. Turns out the Ladylady and her Husband are masters, too, but even they can't defeat the Beast - it requires Sing, who is himself an untapped talent, to win the final battle.

This movie references lots of other films and properties, everything from Looney Tunes to The Shining to a direct quote (in English!) from The Untouchables. It's weird, fast, frenetic, and very much an ensemble movie (despite the Chosen One who takes up the fight at the end); it feels very much like a game of Feng Shui might, right down to the magical realism.

I have not seen Shaolin Soccer, Chow's previous film, but I'm thinking it might be a good idea.

My Grade: B+
Rewatch Value: Medium-high

Next up: Kung Fu Panda