Kung fu Hustle
Kung fu Hustle truly defines the term ‘action-comedy’ with spectacularly-choreographed action and genuinely funny comedy. It goes completely over-the-top in both action and comedy (and in the little romance there is) but does so with so much style and energy that it is truly exhilarating. It does not have the gorgeous scenery or the elaborate, dance-like stunt choreography of movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero. But in place of those it has a wackiness that never gets boring. So I liked this one better than those.
A word of advice. If you are gonna watch Kung fu Hustle, do so without learning about the cast or what roles the actors are playing. I had no idea who the film’s director and hero Stephen Chow was and was surprised almost consistently throughout the film. When watching with ignorance about the cast, heroes and villains spring up from the most unexpected places and its almost impossible to guess how the story will proceed and who the important characters are. That just adds to the movie’s fun.
This is a movie where how things are done is way more important than what is done. I mean, the stunts in the movie break laws of physics in the most outrageous ways and involve sound and air taking on an almost physical form and having enough power to cause considerable physical damage. But the stunts are staged in a way that makes these things seem perfectly acceptable. There is a comic element in almost all the stunts that aids in the suspension of disbelief. At the same time the seriousness of the fights isn’t lost and some of the moves are intricately choreographed. Its clear that Chow doesn’t want us to believe whats happening on screen. He just wants us to enjoy it.
The movie conjures up laughs in the most unexpected of places. There are some incredulous tone changes from one scene to the next as the movie proceeds and awe-inspiring stunt sequences close on an unexpectedly funny note. But the movie carries it off. Ofcourse there are some purely comic sequences (I especially liked one involving knives and snakes) that are downright hilarious too.
Kung fu Hustle is like nothing I’ve seen before. Since tastes are so subjective, I usually like to suggest movies along the lines of “If you liked that, you’ll like this”. But I realized that there’s no other movie I’ve seen that I can use as a point of reference for this one. So give it a shot. And if you love it as much as I did, then you’ve just discovered a whole new genre! As for me, I’ve already added Shaolin Soccer to my Netflix queue :)