KUNG FU HUSTLE
 

Directed by Stephen Chow. 2005.


Talking Pictures alias talkingpix.co.uk
 
 


 
 

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Kung Fu masters battling for world peace in Pig Sty Alley, mental murderers getting jiggy with it and one hell of a scary landlady makes Kung Fu Hustle the sleeper summer hit.

This gloriously mad-cap Hong Kong mish-mash is the fourth film from Shaolin Soccer director Stephen Chow. With everyone wondering how Chow could possibly outdo Soccer, the pressure was high. But Chow has faced the challenge head on and in Hustle he’s holding nothing back. Hustle has everything from maniacal dancing gang-leaders, one in a million kung-fu geniuses to frog-fighting, atypically pathological psycho killers.

Brimming with Matrix piss-takes and kung fu film parodies, Hustle follows the sinking fortunes of Sing (Chow) and his inherently unaggressive sidekick as they try to join the all-singing, all-dancing, all-feared Axe Gang. The impoverished residents of Pig Sty Alley become terrorised in the process and find that, incidentally, at least three kung fu masters reside there undercover. The plot’s pretty thin but does exist (no mention of other martial arts plotless wonders), but the film is held up by its mixture of adsurdity, slapstick comedy and ultra-violence. 

Influenced by the likes of The Shining, Casino and Loony Tunes, Kung Fu Hustle is sure to be slightly mind-boggling. Chow’s humour keeps it up-beat, and if, at the beginning, you think it’s wickedly fast and snappy, can he keep it at this level for the whole film? He can.

Using innovative effects and striking, satirising imagery, Hustle is stylised to perfection. Comic timing is spot on and the fight sequences are perfectly choreographed. There’s even a cameo from Yuen Wo-Ping, choreographer of Crouching Tiger and The Matrix, as a Buddhist Palm manual-selling tramp. Unlike other martial arts films where wires are used to allow the characters to fly inexplicably, Hustle is entirely explicable by the fact that ‘they know kung fu.’ If you can suspend your belief to enjoy the flying sequences in Crouching Tiger, Hero et al., you should suspend 95 minutes worth of belief to enjoy the fabulously wacky, hilarious and spot-on Kung Fu Hustle.

Shari Last
 
 
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