Fri, Dec 24, 2004 - Page 17 News List

Kung Fu kicks off Christmas

Like `Shaolin Soccer,' which is by the same director, `Kung Fu Hustle' uses computer graphics to great effect

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Kung Fu Hustle is funky.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BVI INTERNATIONAL

The Christmas weekend starts with Hong Kong comedian Stephen Chow's (周星馳) Kung Fu Hustle (功夫), Chow's first movie to enter the US market.

Chow's movie is set in 1940s Guangdong Province, China. Chow plays Ah-xing, a street rascal who fools around constantly. He is good at talking glibly, but at the core he is feeble-minded and stuck in poverty with an unknown future. So, it doesn't look good for A-xing at the beginning of the movie.

It doesn't get any better, either a little later as we discover it is A-xing's goal is to become a member of the notorious Axe Gang (斧頭幫), the fiercest, cruelest and most widespread gang of the city.

One day when A-xing goes into a slum, Pig Cage Town, to do his usual extortion, he witnesses a real clash between two gangs: the Axe Gang is clearing out a local gang that has not shown allegiance to the Axe. A-xing realizes the slum residents -- including the plump landlady and her skinny and wimpy-looking husband -- have each turned into kung-fu masters to fight against the large group of gangs.

A-xing then realizes this is a battle between good and evil and that he is called to choose one side.

Stephen Chow continues his unique comedy style, twisting the slapstick jokes and reinterpreting them with his composed face. In Kung Fu Hustle, Chow intensifies the self-torture sequences and creates more funny points in his suffering. For example, when Chow shows his characters practising kung-fu while faced by a middle-aged woman in the slum, he is quickly kicked in the groin. He is also stabbed by three flying daggers which were supposedly aimed at his enemy and is later bitten in the face by two poisonous snakes. Through all these trials he manages to survive for another day.

Film Notes Hustle

Directed by: Stephen Chow

Screening location: on general release

Language: in Cantonese with both English and Chinese subtitles

Taiwan Release: today


Apart from creativity, Kung Fu Hustle has also demonstrated a higher quality comedy than his early 1990s works such as Fight Back to School (1991) and King of Beggars (1992). The cinematography is more sophisticated, with an authentic 1930s aura. And like Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle heavily adopts computer graphics to present special effects such as the snake, daggers and flying axes.

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