Kung Fu Hustle
Kung Fu Hustle Movie Review
It is not difficult to see why Chow’s movie was a success. Kung Fu Hustle is an instant cult classic, and one can not stop to run to the video club or the Internet to get information, get more Chow movies or rent Shaolin Soccer. Chow’s talent is impressive, with a fabulous lyricism, demolishing all cliches and expectations, and establishing new and unsuspected lands.
This may sound like an exaggerated criticism, but until you see Kung Fu Hustle you will not know what I mean. It’s not the typical martial arts movie and it is not even the usual clownish comedy. It is much more. It has numerous codes and readings that tune perfectly to the western public. Without going any further, the film parodies at moments to The Untouchables (when the tailor dies), The Shining (when Sing goes looking for the Beast), and even The Spiderman (“all great power carries a great responsibility”), among other films. But it’s not a Scary Movie-type comedy that simply copies scenes from other movies and then plague them with jokes (bad ones). Although the story is pure formula (poor neighborhood harassed by the mafia, that could well fit in the directions of the Godfather), Chow fills the holes with pure inventiveness. At the moment that the Gang of the Ax appears in the Alley of the Porqueriza, one begins to see that the film is going to go anywhere but the expected way. Hundreds of thugs appear in the conventillo, but they are crushed by three of the most suffering and unusual characters (the gay tailor, the baker, the changarin). And when the Gang sends the harp killers – two men who, by playing the instrument, throw swords, axes and even zombie warriors flying through the air – the movie enters a fantastic unpredictable delirium.
Chow is seen as an avid consumer of Hollywood cinema, but he is a faithful follower of Chinese filmography, and exquisitely combines the best of both. Filmed in Australia, with Western technical invoice, the tape has numerous CGI effects that are totally unrelated to a Hong Kong martial film (saving the previous Shaolin Soccer of the same Chow), but that integrate in a remarkable way. In addition to having a remarkable script, which shows in a few strokes their characters and while the people of the convent deal with the mobsters, Chow’s character is radiated from the action, to brief but excellent comedy moments (as when he tries to kill the owner of the conventillo, nailing by mistake all the daggers he throws at him, and ends up being pursued in the best style of Coyote and Roadrunner). Each scene has a surprise.
We know the story of the movie, the character failed in the martial arts, by a bad experience in his childhood – defending a mute girl of fighters, and ending humiliated at the hands of these – decided to turn to the criminal life. We also know that a beggar sold him a book on the martial technique of Buddha’s hand; and there is the subplot where it says that there are teachers who are born with powers by nature – the chosen … someone said Neo? -, which will lead to the emergence of the true power that Sing has inside just when things seem irremediable. The film goes in crescendo with a perfect rhythm toward the end, where the audience simply roars and applauds standing the apocalyptic fight between the Elect and the Beast.
It is an enormously entertaining film. I would think that soon Hollywood will give Chow the space he deserves to be discovered and recognized, starting by commercially distributing his previous filmography. He is a brilliant artist who surpasses all the standards of his genre, and that should be acclaimed as it corresponds. If you want a good laugh mixed with some action, this movie is extremely recommend, as the fighting is very good as well.
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