Communicator (communicator) wrote,

Kung Fu Hustle

Last night I went to see Kung Fu Hustle. It's hard to describe it because it really isn't like any other film I've ever seen. Short review - very peculiar genre-bending Chinese comedy, which made me laugh, and cheered me up for the rest of the day.

Written, directed by, and starring very yummy Stephen Chow who taught himself Kung Fu by watching the telly. The story is set in 1940s China but the Japanese invasion and communist revolution don't get so much as a mention. A vicious gang called 'The Axe Gang' go to war with the inhabitants of a working class tenement block called 'Pig Sty Alley'. A remarkably high proportion of the inhabitants of Pig Sty Alley have miraculous King Fu powers. So hurrah for the downtrodden workers who kick seven shades of shit out of the baddies.

It's a very dark comedy as there are several quite horrible deaths, of people that one has come to care about. The humour is bizarre and surreal. Perhaps Chinese humour in some ways is like British humour: sliding between grotesque realism and complete nonsense. Also bare bums and inflatable breasts.

The film was very knowing about films. It explicitly goes head to head with films like the Matrix and Kill Bill, and in my opinion kicks seven shades out of them too. For instance, we see the hero (aka 'The One') having a massive fight with a load of guys in identical suits, and sending them flying in all directions. Not only is the fighting much better than in the Matrix, but when we pan back we see all the villains embedded in walls and upended in water barrels, with their legs kicking feebly. More exciting and funnier. Also much more effective (IMHO) than Uma Thurman taking on the Crazy-88s.

The first section was reminiscent of 'Chicago' or ''Guys and Dolls', with gangsters dancing with machine guns; some later bits were like Bugs Bunny, The Shining and Silence of the Lambs. I think that gives you some idea of the bizarre scope of the film.

I do recommend it, though if you were put off by the bit in 'Crouching Tiger' where they go flying up in the air you won't like this at all - it takes that sort of thing much much further.

All in all, a warm film with a good heart and likeable characters.
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