Kung Fu Fridays: Kung Fu Hustle

There is nothing else quite like Kung Fu Hustle. Released in 2004, Stephen Chow followed up the equally brilliant, and equally absurd Shaolin Soccer, with an homage to 1970’s Shaw Bros. Kung Fu and slapstick comedy. This is not a serious film. It is filled with over the top, CGI effects, silly characters, gross out humor, and a laughable story. (so much like the movies it pays homage to) This movie plays like the imagination of a child brought to life if that child grew up weened on old school Kung Fu and Warner Bros./Looney Tunes cartoons. There are references galore in this film; some subtle some so over the top you’d be hard pressed to miss them. It is a film perhaps best described by the late Roger Ebert as, “Jackie Chan and Buster Keaton meets Quentin Tarantino and Bugs Bunny.”

The story of Kung Fu Hustle is the classic zero to hero many films in this genre are famous for. Sing, played by Stephen Chow, wants desperately to be a part of the Deadly Axe Gang. Sing wants nothing more than to forget the embarrassment he felt after trying to, and failing to, protect a young girl from a group of bullies. He, along with his friend Bone played by Lam Chi-Chung, go to Pig Sty Alley to intimidate and harass the locals to prove themselves to the Deadly Axe Gang. They are, unfortunately for them, chased off by the landlady of the tenements, played beautifully by Yuen Qui. Angered at their failure, the leader of the gang, Brother Sum, sends his group of thugs to the alley and orders Sin and Bone captured. However, when the gang shows up, they are defeated by three residents of the alley, Coolie, Tailor, and Donut. (all played by retired legends of classic Kung Fu cinema) You see, Pig Sty Alley is not just any other slum in 1940’s China, it is the hiding place of Martial Arts masters because of course it is. The landlady and her husband, the landlord, are also martial arts masters in hiding due to the death of their son. More fighting ensues, the old masters are killed minus the landlady and her husband and our hero, Sing, goes on a journey of self discovery whilst trying to continue to prove himself to Brother Sum. Without ruining the rest of the movie, there is double crossing, redemption, training, and a middle aged yet nonetheless legendary fighter named the Beast. It is not the deepest of plots to be sure but it is damn sure enjoyable and more than enough to get the movie to where it needs to be. (which is the fighting)

The fight scenes in this movie are choreographed by Yuen Woo-Ping,  of Matrix fame among numerous other films. The fights themselves are big and full of special effects. (think Neo against all of those Agent Smiths) Yet, somehow, they work in this context. They never seem outside of this particular world. Stephen Chow is not a lifelong martial artist but a fan who learned enough to seem credible. The other actors in the film are much better than Chow and it shows in how the fights are directed. They are beautiful and insane often at the same time. There is a joy to this type of film making and this type of movie. Even with some of the more violent aspects, shotgun blasts through the chest for example, there is nothing here not done with love. If you have never seen this film I demand that you do so now. (or at least when you have the time, you’re an adult with responsibilities and I respect that but frankly, I am a little tired of your excuses…) Check out the trailer below. Follow me on twitter and instagram, @geekadedan, and let me know what you thought of the flick. And don’t forget to check this space next week as we take a look at another Kung Fu classic. Until then…

 

 

Dean DeFalco

Creator of Websites, editor of content, wearer of vests. This man is said to be "The Jack of All Trades".  Dean has his hands in most parts of the website one way or another. The original incarnation of Geekade, "G33k Life", was Dean's brainchild. While Dean can be found on a number of shows like when he was the former co-host of the Stone Age Gamer Podcast or the current host Vest and Friends or talking about video games on YouTube and Twitch, he is the guy behind the scenes making sure that the site does everything it's supposed to every one else can do their job. There's not a problem he can't solve.....or at least punch and scream at until it doesn't exist anymore.

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