Recent East Asian Cinema #6: Shaolin Soccer.

Welcome to the sixth of seven posts that will detail East Asian cinema, giving genre history leading up to a recent movie which will be reviewed! I hope you enjoy the series. For more information or previous entries, check the posts below this one.


Hong Kong Action Cinema/Comedy.

History: In yesterday’s history lesson, I discussed the early history of Hong Kong Action Cinema. By the time I got to the 1990s, I mentioned that these movies went into a slump, and two types of movies brought them out of it. The first was the rebirth of the wuxia film, AKA the type of film that Jet Li would make. The other type that helped get Hong Kong out of a slump took the other route, with the types of movies Jackie Chan would make.

Jackie Chan really brought into the mainstream the kung fu comedy with his slapstick humor and realistic stunts. However, the man to help bring Hong Kong out of its slump was not Jackie Chan, but a man named Stephen Chow. Stephen Chow is a comedian, but a lot of his jokes dealt with Chinese culture, meaning that the Western World wouldn’t have understood a lot of his material. Thus, his earlier films went mostly unrecognized internationally. However, he then created a movie by the name of Shaolin Soccer, which was not only an international hit, but became the best selling movie in China at the time. That title would only be succeeded by Stephen Chow’s next movie, Kung Fu Hustle. So now we’re going to focus on the kung fu comedy with Shaolin Soccer.

Shaolin Soccer (2001).

Country of Origin: China/Hong Kong.

Original Title: Siu lam juk kau.

Director: Stephen Chow.

The movie is about a former Shaolin monk, Sing (Stephen Chow), now basically living off the street, who wants to bring Shaolin Kung Fu to the masses, as he believes it will make all lives easier. But when former soccer star Fung (Ng Man Tat) is fired by his evil brother, Hung (Patrick Tse Yin), he stumbles upon down-and-out Sing on the street and realizes that he has a Mighty Steel Leg that could work wonders in soccer. So Sing tries to get together his former monk brothers, all with special abilities of their own, to put together a Shaolin soccer team. The only thing in their way is Hung’s Team Evil, who they must beat in order to win the competition.

This movie is crazy, wacky, and random. There’s even a random dance number (which I’ve included in my Top 10 Random Dance Scenes) that’s bizarre, but hilarious. The movie is funny and over-the-top, and there really isn’t much to say about it. It’s basically a parody on both wuxia and sports comedy.

The special effects are pretty good, especially within the final soccer match. The story is fun, the actors/actresses have good comedic timing, and the movie is all around plain good fun. That’s the only real way to describe it. There’s really not much else to say about it, really, so I’ll leave it at this rather short review.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

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