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April 21, 2005

Kung Fu Hustle

Aside from Million Dollar Baby, all the best movies seem to be Chinese. Kung Fu Hustle kicks it up a notch. It's like the Chinese equivalent of Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.

Maybe I'm predisposed to seeing things this way, having long ago written of many of the sensibilities of art house movies and engorged myself on Bruce Willis and Gene Hackman, but I'm only intellectually moved by the subtext of the fine Chinese product. Kung Fu Hustle is a surprisingly delightful film with a moral as nicely done as Iron Monkey and action which is a combination of Wiley Coyote, Master of the Flying Guillotine, The Mask, Drunken Master and Sargeant Swell of the Mounties.

This movie is more than extraordinarily fun, it is a tribute to common folks and a life of humble bonhommie. I haven't seen anything as tender and respectful of the common man, without taking itself so damned seriously, since 'Stand By Me', and that hardly counts because it's easy to get kids to act like that. But when is the last time you saw.. Oh wait, I take that back. Make it 'O Brother Where Art Thou?', sorta. It's got an honesty that makes it feel rather like watching The Little Rascals with its cast of crazy characters.

This flick takes all kinds of liberties of the sort you never expect. It's a completely unpredictable show and breaks a lot of boundaries. It feels like a classic fable and an over the top spoof at the same time. I guarantee that it will become a favorite. This is top drawer entertainment, and you will split your sides laughing. I mean when have you ever seen a kung fu movie where people actually did bad kung fu? There are a couple of scenes with bad kung fu that will have you cracking up.

Is the rest of the martial arts good? Heck yeah. There's stuff in here that I've never seen before anywhere, not even in concept. For that alone it's worth the ticket. I'm actually so impressed that won't even spoil it, which is rare for me.

This is just magical. I can't wait for the DVD.

Posted by mbowen at April 21, 2005 11:08 PM

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I was in NYC last night doing the movie-and-dinner thing with a friend. We could have seen "Kung Fu Hustle," but my Taiwanese friend wanted to see "Eating Out," which is basically a chick flick for gay guys. I'll probably see the Stephen Chow film tonight.

I have always been a HUGE fan of Stephen Chow! I first saw his films in '92 when I was working in Malaysia. He specializes in broad physical comedy and social satire, which Americans love, but Chinese people are ambivalent about -- some think it's immature or unsophisticated.

I think he was the one who started that convention of kung fu masters flying through the air, which for him was a joke, but ended up being used in later kung fu movies! Go to a Chinese video store and see if you can find "Royal Tramp," and then watch it with someone who understands Chinese, so they can explain the puns in the dialog.

Stephen Chow is a long-established master. Unfortunately, distributors think that Chinese comedies don't travel well, so most people in the USA don't know who he is. He is worth checking out, although you will have to look through amazon.com to find his stuff.

Posted by: Scott Ferguson at April 22, 2005 05:05 AM

Oh, besides "Royal Tramp," his movie "God of Cookery" is a take-off on the Iron Chef TV series that's hysterically funny!

Posted by: Scott Ferguson at April 22, 2005 05:08 AM