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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 34.09%
Just Average: 2.84%
Pretty Crappy: 2.27%
Sucks: 0.57%

14 reviews, 92 user ratings

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Kung Fu Hustle
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by Robert Flaxman

"He's got the hustle, he's got the muscle."
4 stars

The original Chinese title of Kung Fu Hustle was simply Kung Fu, and while itís understandable why that title didnít make the transition to the English-speaking market, itís a shame, because thereís a Scary Movie or Airplane!-type aspect to that title. Director and star Stephen Chow sets out to spoof much about the world of martial arts films, and succeeds on that count. At the same time, however, Kung Fu Hustle has perhaps a bit too much in common with Wes Cravenís Scream Ė another genre-tweaking exercise that ends up a bit bogged down by the very conventions it professes to skewer.

Chow plays Sing, one of a pair of petty-crook drifters who try to intimidate people into giving them free things by claiming to be members of the feared Axe Gang. When they try this in one particular slum, Pig Sty Alley, they are uncovered as frauds when the real Axe Gang shows up, only to surprisingly be beaten in a fight with three kung fu masters who live in the slum. The Axe Gang swears revenge and uses increasingly dangerous methods to beat the inhabitants of Pig Sty; meanwhile, Sing continues to try and prove his toughness as a bad guy, failing each time.

Chow is both a solid comedic actor and a talented comedic director, and the portions of Kung Fu Hustle that play out as pure spoof and slapstick are a real treat. The martial arts sequences, choreographed by Yuen Woo-Ping and employing plenty of wire trickery, are also generally fun. Some of the other special effects are a little strange; in a couple of places, the characters seem to be emulating cartoons, such as a chase between Sing and the Pig Sty landlady in which their feet turn into the circular blurs more typical of a Road Runner short. Perhaps this contributes to a thesis that characters in martial arts movies take so much punishment with aplomb that they might as well be cartoons, but there is little context to suggest this and so the scene just feels odd.

The difference between Scream and Scary Movie was that the latter simply existed to make fun of horror movie formula, while the former poked fun at those conventions but still wanted to exploit them for its own ends. Kung Fu Hustleís use of martial arts feels similarly opportunist; while it parodies many of the contextual touches that crop up in kung fu films, Hustle seems to take itself oddly seriously at other times. Singís backstory, in which he saves a mute girl from bullies at a young age, mostly by getting beaten up, isnít played for laughs, nor really is anything in the plotline that involves the two of them. Many of the kung fu sequences are played straight as well.

Itís quite possible that Chow has his tongue firmly lodged in his cheek in scenes like this Ė each time Sing and the girl meet, the soundtrack swells with an orchestral flourish that is either way overplayed or dripping with sarcasm. Still, so few cues are given in the entire plotline Ė indeed, in the entire movie Ė that it becomes increasingly difficult to tell where Chowís tongue ends and his cheek begins. Aside from the sheer grandiloquence of the effects-driven kung fu sequences, there is little to indicate that the filmís martial arts are intended to be taken with anything other than deadly seriousness, and visual bombast is a pretty flimsy indicator. All told, the whole affair is fairly up and down.

Still, the film is loaded with enough pure entertainment that its failings arenít as important as they might otherwise be. The broad comedy always works and the kung fu sequences are usually entertaining; the special effects donít always look very realistic but itís hard to get the feeling that they were supposed to, so why complain about it? The scenes between Sing and the mute girl have a legitimate sweetness, whether itís intended as satire or not, which makes up for the disruptive effect they tend to have on the filmís flow. Chow is an engaging comedian who knows how to carry a scene, which he frequently does, and he surrounds himself with other actors who are solid combinations of comedy and martial arts talent, making sure that, at the very least, the film never hangs itself with a weak performance when its pace demands punch.

Kung Fu Hustle isnít a perfect spoof, and it sometimes feels too rushed for its own good, but Chowís directorial flair and comedic timing keep things rolling along smoothly enough for most of the way. The film may never quite come together, but it's about as enjoyable as the scattershot can get.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10619&reviewer=385
originally posted: 08/22/05 16:41:16
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. For more in the 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/01/13 Atari TwentySixHundred Flaxman, totally missed the mark. This film is beautiful, fun, and exciting! 5 stars
1/04/10 stephan chow fan forever ok.. if you want to get the full effects of the movie, then learn chinese (puns and stuff) 5 stars
12/22/09 Cody This movie is one of the best I've ever seen and I am waiting for the 2010 sequel 5 stars
8/29/08 Shaun Wallner The Action was Amazing! 5 stars
3/12/08 ako excellent film by Chow with indepth understanding of the 3 level of Kung Fu. 5 stars
6/05/07 tracey chambers great movie. funny as hell. 5 stars
5/06/07 fools♫gold Die?! In this racket? 5 stars
4/17/07 David Pollastrini pretty silly! 2 stars
2/06/07 AJ Muller Drops laughs and ass-whuppins our way in old school WB style. Awesome. 4 stars
1/08/07 Drew Galletti As a kung-fu nerd, a well done, humorous homage to the genre 5 stars
12/07/06 UGB Definately worth a look - I thought it pretty funny 4 stars
7/05/06 drydock54321 just like a live action cartoon. Love that lion roar. 5 stars
5/05/06 Jason Terrible, unfunny movie. I'd rather watch a Tony Jaa movie 1 stars
3/30/06 Steb A kung fu comedy! What more could you ask for? 5 stars
2/11/06 brewt hustle me good 4 stars
12/31/05 metalhead Kung Fu Hustle is Freakin Sweet! One of the greatest movies ever made. 5 stars
11/15/05 Adrian Unique in every aspect...and thats what makes it so damn good and fun to watch. 5 stars
10/14/05 eddiejohns Funny and action-packed. I liked this combo. 4 stars
10/13/05 Indrid Cold A cross between "Crouching Tiger" and "Kung Pao"; dumb but entertaining. 4 stars
9/23/05 Mark Radburn A Kick-Ass Asian movie, A must-see 5 stars
9/21/05 Fritz Kind of amusing, but not as funny as it thinks it is. 3 stars
9/16/05 millersxing riki tiki tembo no sa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo 5 stars
9/11/05 Rever_Bear-Trap This RATING says it all! 5 stars
9/11/05 Alex Robert Rodriguez died 5 stars
9/08/05 Phil M. Aficionado The more I think about it, the better I like it; stunningly chaotic and funny and lively 5 stars
9/01/05 Zack it pretty sweet 3 stars
9/01/05 JFK great asian comedy. 4 stars
8/29/05 Quigley doesn't deliver what it promises. the CG wasn't great and neither were the fight scenes. 3 stars
8/27/05 Tom Burns This movie was amazing. 5 stars
8/24/05 Kat Scrumtrilacent with a hint of stellar. 5 stars
8/23/05 Nick Great movie.Up there with Spiderman. 5 stars
8/15/05 John Kung Fu Hustle R1 DvD is edited. Blood has been taken out and a scene has been shortened 4 stars
8/14/05 Ebru Germeyan Not even a Cartoon movie could top this movie 5 stars
8/13/05 othree next level. solid story, cast, imagery, believable cheeziness 5 stars
8/12/05 Justin Kline Funnier Than Heck 4 stars
7/16/05 Kathy terPlugg Not as good as KUNG POW: ENTER THE FIST. 3 stars
7/05/05 jim even better than Revenge of the Sith 5 stars
6/25/05 Sean Poon It has more depth than it appears to be 5 stars
6/14/05 jameth burketh Absolutely hillarious-gets better with repeated viewing. A very clever film 5 stars
6/08/05 Gray It was fun 4 stars
6/06/05 captain craig the more I see it, the more I like it 5 stars
5/27/05 juli Matrix fights ripped off Hong Kong movies to begin with 5 stars
5/21/05 Cham Like watching a live-action violent cartoon. 4 stars
5/21/05 kemalx78 very funy when i watching this i amnt boring 5 stars
5/16/05 Shawn Borucki Excellent film, Stephen Chow tops "Shaolin Soccer" with mixing gangs and land ladies.. 5 stars
5/10/05 Morrigan Matrix Ripoffs? You sir are an idiot. 5 stars
5/08/05 Ka-Poon Chan Its a very good film, a different outlook from this genre of film making! 4 stars
5/04/05 Koitus Was the urination scene REALLY necessary??? Also, MANY scenes were "Matrix" rip-offs... 2 stars
5/02/05 michaelb14 "I did'nt know The Lion's Roar could be done with a speaker!" 5 stars
5/01/05 your worst goddamn nightmare Take a bit of Loony Toons and Jackie Chan and you've got this. Sounds terrible, BUT........ 5 stars
5/01/05 Dorothy Malm quite entertaining, a lot of fun 5 stars
4/30/05 Chris Stephens This is one cool movie 5 stars
4/28/05 Titus Way cool. 5 stars
4/27/05 Uncle Salty See it. Love it. 5 stars
4/27/05 Colleen Godlrick unique 5 stars
4/27/05 Jeff Anderson A high energy, hysterical & full-throttle BLAST! More fun than all 3 MATRIX films combined! 5 stars
4/26/05 Naka God, YES!!! 5 stars
4/25/05 Whatevr Oh, dizzamn! 5 stars
4/25/05 KingNeutron Fkg awesome, wacky, goofy, sometimes disturbing, and oddly... moving. See twice! 5 stars
4/23/05 jeff not as good as house of flying daggers but still funny and awsome 5 stars
4/23/05 jakob it rocked hard. 5 stars
4/19/05 jordan can you give kung fu hustle movie 0n dvd 2004 2 stars
4/18/05 Al Guy I love it! Watch out for the Hollywood "remake". 5 stars
4/14/05 Gray this movie was great fun! 5 stars
4/12/05 Junior LaRoche Great! Sony Classics know how to release films, unlike Miramax. 5 stars
4/12/05 visual A must-see!!!! 5 stars
4/11/05 Mr. Majestyk If you can't enjoy this movie, you need a blowjob. 5 stars
4/11/05 Dan Olson Good, but not Chow's best and not worth the acclaim 4 stars
4/09/05 Vince Not overly hilarious, but fun. 4 stars
4/09/05 mahn erfa 5 stars
4/07/05 Lina Correa everyone should borrow this from their friend with the large DVD collection 4 stars
4/01/05 kran must watch 5 stars
3/25/05 Greg Ursic Outstanding!! Never have I seen that many reviewers mock fighting in a lobby. 5 stars
3/08/05 vu Awesome 5 stars
3/02/05 michael weber gwaaaaaaaaaa!!!! 3 stars
2/24/05 jandro Great and Side-Splitting funny, Chow sure knows how to tickle the funny bone 5 stars
2/12/05 anthony hilarious and energetic fun! but the script couldve used more work 4 stars
2/07/05 Zach a must-watch! 5 stars
1/29/05 Ery amazingly beautiful and funny 5 stars
1/28/05 buddy garrett same old formula 2 stars
1/28/05 keith james CHOW (GETS) DOWN! 4 stars
1/12/05 Maya gut-busting funny, way cool fight scenes, and unpredictable. i'm now a huge fan. 5 stars
1/11/05 Josh Funniest film i've seen for ages - very stylish too 5 stars
1/10/05 Miles Bader Hits every note just right, silly and affectionate 5 stars
1/08/05 Francis Ayock Stephen Chow homage to the Cantonese Martial Arts films of the last few decades. 5 stars
1/01/05 Dominique Incredibly hilarious - far better than Shaolin Soccer! 5 stars
1/01/05 alicia yeo shi ling absolutely funny! 4 stars
12/23/04 ArQ Chow did it again! 5 stars
9/20/04 Naka Hysterical!!! 5 stars
9/15/04 Pop very good film 4 stars
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  08-Apr-2005 (R)
  DVD: 09-Aug-2005



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