Kung Fu Hustle (HK 2004)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 3/20/05
Produced And Directed By: Stephen Chow
Action Choreography: Yuen Woo Ping, Samo Hung
Cast: Stephen Chow, Yuen Wah, cameo by Yuen Cheung Yan

After the amazing success of "Shaolin Soccer" (2003), Hong Kong funnyman Stephen Chow follows up with another superb high tech kung fu comedy in the same vein. Sing (Stephen Chow) is a wannabe gangster who stirs up trouble with the notorious axe gang. The escalating exchanges of revenge unleash Sing's true potential, leading to a jaw-dropping kung fu climax against a foe known as The Beast. Typical of Chow's work, the comedic tone of the film runs from cruel and mean spirited to incomprehensible and completely absurd. While much of the comedy doesn't work, there are two or three scenes that are just piss-in-your-pants funny (the knife throwing scene immediately comes to mind). But what really sets this film apart are the action scenes, which are a spectacular blend of old school kung fu, high tech digital wizardry, and physical comedy. While many of the CGI and wire effects are distracting and intrusive, the majority of them are spectacular and a sheer beauty to behold. But special effects are no substitute for the real thing, and Chow makes sure to keep the action real and on the ground just as much as it's in the air and over the top. Hollywood has yet to figure that one out. Thanks to kung fu veterans Yuen Woo Ping and Samo Hung, the action looks superb and really harkens back to the good old days. While the film isn't perfect, it certainly is enjoyable and Stephen Chow just might have a real hit on his hands when it opens in America.