For five years, film critic Scott Tobias compiled "The New Cult Canon" in a regular column for The A.V. Club…
Kung Fu Hustle
From walking disaster to kung fu master.
In Shanghai, China in the 1940s, a wannabe gangster aspires to join the notorious "Axe Gang" while residents of a housing complex exhibit extraordinary powers in defending their turf.
My neighbors are probably wondering what the hell is going on in my apt having heard me laughing out loud while revisiting this film! The 3 back to back scenes involving knives, snakes and road runner-esque chase scene were so funny I thought I was going to bust a gut laughing!
Stunning creativity and imagination generate some truly memorable moments! The special effects dept worked overtime and it really shows!
PTAbro's World Tour Stop 19: China
Fun, frantic, and funny, Kung Fu Hustle is an odd beast - reveling in its own goofiness, yet somehow supremely earnest, Stephen Chow obviously knows his cinema (the shot of Sing and Fong mirroring Astaire and Rogers was sublime), and works to throw everything together into a convincing narrative; Tex Avery cartoons and Bruce Lee exploitationers are just some of the genres skewered in Chow's tornado of referential machismo. Slapstick, verbal barbs, and absurdism add to the light-hearted humor of the piece.
Unfortunately, not all the jokes stick. Chow himself does a fine job playing semi-foil to the anarchy around him, but he's a much better action star than a comedian. And while I…
No more soccer!
I had the misfortune of not having a single good movie in the last 8 films I watched so I needed palate cleanser. Something guaranteed to bring me viewing pleasure and bring me joy for roughly 2 hours. Enter Kung Fu Hustle.
What other film can you watch that will spoof a Road Runner cartoon and pay homage to Way of the Dragon moments later? The same film that will have two characters in a death scene quote lines from Spider-Man, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind and The Untouchables all in the same exchange. It's like a pop culture martial arts party.
If that sounds a little crazy, then you get a good idea about what kind of martial arts is in the film as well. It crosses the line of reality and doesn't care. It's all the better for it.
I'm just happy from beginning to end when I watch this.
I hadn't seen this since it was released a decade ago, but it strikes me that in all that time since Marvel has released like 30 superhero movies and not a one of them is half as entertaining, imaginative and profound as this. And it runs only 99 minutes.
Things I learned on rewatching:
1. Lam Suet! Lam Suet is in this!
2. The landlord and landlady (types in homage to Chor Yuen's The House of 72 Tenants, a non-action movie that was Hong Kong's biggest hit of 1973, topping even the mighty Bruce Lee) are played by Yuen Wah and Yuen Qiu. Yuen Wah, of course, is a longtime stuntman and actor (you can see him as the villain…
A perfect mixture of slap stick and martial arts. One of the best martial arts movies I've ever seen, and it still holds up to this day. Very fast paced, both fight scene and story wise, and does its very best to exclude any filler in between action sequences and dramatic exposition. Stephen Chow isn't an artsy guy, but he does have his own unmistakable style of execution that you can't ignore as art in it's own right. The final 2 fight scenes in this film are only matched or surpassed by a select few films in existence, and overall is living proof that if Dragonball: Evolution had remained under Chow's control, it wouldn't have suck quite as bad.
- The Spork Guy
a student is on one side of a raging river. there are no bridges. he has no boat. he shouts out to the master on the opposite bank. “How do I get to the other side?” the master shouts back: “You are on the other side.”
"Why do they always want to do it the hard way?" -- Wile E. Coyote
Funny and brilliant.
If Warner Brother ever made live action looney tunes....
Awesome. Th Th Th That's all, folks.
To call "Kung Fu Hustle" a live-action cartoon might be a little glib, but it also would not be inaccurate. When the notorious Axe Gang -- a terrifying mafia in (I think) 1930s China -- tries to overtake a small, poor village, a few normal-looking (but highly-skilled) Kung Fu masters emerge from the cover normal life.
The fight sequences are sometimes breathtaking, sometimes so over the top that it's nearly impossible to suspend disbelief. Clearly, the plot itself is really just an excuse to move the fighting through several different "boss levels," and sometimes to the detriment of the plot. (I would have liked to see more of the coolie, the tailor, and the baker.)
The film is often pretty damn funny, especially when Sing (Chow himself) is slick-talking. (His lollipop redemption subplot is tacked-on, though kind sweet.) It's a very entertaining flick, but with absolutely no depth whatsoever. It's eye- and mind-candy, but it's a lot of fun.
Honestly surprised that I found this tremendously unfunny. Chow's visual competency takes this much farther than it should and without it, the film would be an utter mess of generally flat gags and shitty melodrama. The denouement of the film caused literally eye rolling more than once.
It almost seems to be of a nega-verse where this is an Edgar Wright movie and Edgar Wright is extraordinarily less talented.
There was something nice in the overall takeaway that there is something exceedingly beautiful in the ordinary of life but man this movie goes to almost not lengths to prove it. On top of being overly expositional and unnecessarily egregious fay/gay stereotypes.
No, Steven Chow, I don't find your interesting framing of butt cheeks funny.
Based on: "Looney Tunes Goes East," the movie.
From the building drums, to the singular slow violin, the overtures' (sync me) for this film. Making me feel, like I have ringside seat, for the next fight.
PERSONAL: What can I say, I'm a F'in fool for Stephen Chow movies.
Kung Fu Hustle, directed by Stephen Chow, is a unique Kung Fu film, with some artistic blend of Kung fu, comedy and CGI effects.
It is also a matter of notice that film delivers wonderful plot with brilliant cast, who portray their stunts as original as the demanding from director Stephen Chow.
Being a follower of Hong-Kong movies, I must admit that I have greatly enjoyed this wondeful film, and this is one of my favorite films, along with many other Kung fu movies.
Thumbs Up: Chow's infectiously fun and energetic direction, huge cast of crazy magical characters (with an assist from the great costume and production design), plots plays out in interesting and unexpected ways, Chow gives a hilarious performance but wisely doesn't hog the spotlight, good score.
Thumbs Down: Chow's whimsey gets a little out of hand, over-reliance on CGI that hasn't aged well (especially the bit where he's got huge swollen lips), a few bits of lazy exposition, would have enjoyed the fight scenes more if they focused on choreography rather than crazy special effects.
Kung Fu Hustle shows why the Hong Kong actor-director's features should be considered a genre of their own; a marvelously entertaining picture.
- Donnie Darko
- Morvern Callar
- Irma Vep
- Miami Blues
- Babe: Pig in the City
- Ace in the Hole
- The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
- After Hours
I don't usually post others' best-of/essential film compilations, since there are too many of them to keep track of, but…
- Pulp Fiction
- Fight Club
- Blade Runner
- The Big Lebowski
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of…