I love Kung Fu Hustle. Geniunely, I love this movie.
Okay, yes–it was just yesterday that I brought up Kung Fu Panda, and I can assure you that I’m not on some crazy kung fu kick. Not that kung fu movies aren’t often great fun–I tell you, this is the one subgenre of film where you can count on the Chinese to be amazing. They have done some FANTASTIC stuff.
But Kung Fu Hustle was something special.
The plot is one significant part of it–a young man from the country and his tubby cohort are out to join the Axe Gang, the most feared criminal syndicate in all of China. They want the standard things that young men looking to join criminal syndicates want, money and women. While out trying to join, they stumble into Pig Sty Alley, a run-down housing development full of honest, hard-working folks just trying to make their way in the world. In a series of unusual events, Pig Sty Alley manages to catch the attention of the Axe Gang, and we discover the Alley’s secret–it’s positively lousy with kung fu masters. The coolie (basically a guy who moves heavy stuff for a living) is a thunder-legged master by the name of Twelve Kicks. The tailor is an effeminate punching master known as Iron Fist, who hangs his dry cleaning up by the iron rings that protect his wrists in battle. And the guy at the noodle shop, Donut? He’s a staff fighter called Hexagon Staff.
And for those of you who think I’ve given away half the plot, oh no. Oh no no nooooo…there’s plenty more where they came from.
Naturally, the Axe Gang takes offense to this apartment building standing up for itself and thus sends an array of hired killers to take care of business.
Perhaps the best part of Kung Fu Hustle is the way Stephen Chow has managed to blend an adrenaline-fuelled rush of a movie with a rollicking comic riot of a movie. There will be entire stretches of the movie with precious little dialogue, but you’ll scarcely notice because you’re too busy watching incredibly choreographed fight scenes. And then, when the dialogue DOES come back into play, it’s brisk, it’s punchy, and it packs in plenty of laughs. There’s a very good reason that this movie had the widest cinematic release in the United States of a foreign language film–because it was THAT GOOD. I actually remember seeing this one in a theatre near my house, and I live out in the middle of nowhere, so we don’t always get the newest movies right off. But on one cold Sunday afternoon in April, I managed to catch this one. And it stuck with me for quite a while, seeing the amazing fight scenes on a big screen.
Yes, for those who want a SERIOUS kung fu epic, well, this is not for you. In fact, I’m hard pressed to name very many SERIOUS kung fu epics–most of the ones I’ve seen have had at least a little humor in them. And yes, there’s a heavy dependence on the wire-fu going on in here. But these things are so small that they can easily be overlooked. The plain and the simple is, I loved Kung Fu Hustle, and if you’re into action flicks with some humor, or action flicks with a LOT of humor, then Kung Fu Hustle will definitely be up YOUR alley too.