REVIEWED
3/20/06

STORY



LOOK



Kung Fu Hustle
Director: Stephen Chow
Year: 2004
TRT: 1:35


Chow really steps it up a notch (sorry in advance) from his previous film to hit US shores known as Shaolin Soccer. Much in the same vein of hyper-stylized action, it's nice to see a true fan of Bruce Lee take appreciation to a new level. Sure there's a lot of fighting going on, wrapped in a cheezy forsaken-love angle with a good vs bad struggle, but it is a lot of fun.

It's no doubt the gangs rule the roost. Wherever there's money to be made, the gangs control it. So it's the slums that get to live under the radar, so to speak. The Pig Sty Alley tenement gets to do just that until one day when two somewhat-confused wannabe 1940s-era gangbangers end up drawing way more attention to the relatively quiet ghetto than the owners want. There's more than meets the eye for some of the humble occupants, and ends up sparking off a major kung fu Hustle. If, in Hustle, it implies gang war. That quite possibly might be lost in translation here, as there's a shitload more face-stomping, ass-kicking and knuckle-skinning then there is Hustling. But that's cool, there's some hustling going on as well (as in fast avoidance from getting your dick smashed as opposed to running cards or hookers). Yeah.

A modern take on a classic genre, Chow (who also plays the main character) warps kung fu, great physical and visual comedy, and CG effects to create a pretty damn entertaining story. Nice subtle film references range from The Shining and Spiderman to, of course, The Matrix (but not in an overbearing Dreamworks animation kind of way). Chow should take this accomplishment and create something even better, but it looks like he's finally been gotten hold of by the corporate machine so his next film will be Kung Fu Hustle 2: Electric Boogaloo. Damn.

Great Scenes: A few great ones, the comedic picking of a fight by a wannabe Hatchet, visualized musical notes, untwisting the twisted, and enlightenment post stepping off an eagle.

DVD Notes: None, saw it via VOD (Video On Demand). Thanks and appreciation to Starz for giving the option of choosing it in its originally intended Widescreen format with subtitles from Sony Picture Classics. Looks great, tastes like chicken.