Monday, October 17, 2005

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 :)

14 Comments:

At 12:11 AM, Blogger bhuvan said...

And so you should, man! Stephen Chow is an incredibly inspired director and actor. I'd recommend checking out all his work, even his early ones, like GOD OF COOKERY or KING OF COMEDY, which are not so spectacular or refined as his recent two films, but better than all of the Tamil films released in the respective years.

Go, Balaji! Finally you're tapping into WORLD CINEMA!! Go! Chalo, Chale!

 
At 4:37 AM, Anonymous Gopi said...

I watched this on the big screen and loved it! Turned out it was concluded as a good date movie too (wink).

 
At 8:26 AM, Anonymous Raju said...

Nice review.. I always liked the Kung-Fu movies.. Will put it in my rental queue right away..

 
At 9:12 AM, Blogger mitr_bayarea said...

Balaji: I watched this movie at the Dollar Theatre, Cineplux Cinema Saver10 in Milpitas. Had a great laugh and throughly enjoyed the movie.Athukuaparum, Chinese stunt movies along the lines of Kung Fu Hustle naa definite-a worth going to the theatre and watching. Really cool and funny all the way.

 
At 10:04 AM, Anonymous ram said...

think i'll pass on this...not my cup of bournvita...!!
though i loved crouching tiger, hidden dragon...i thought the action sequences were gloriously picturized...they were so graceful...and the drama was riveting too...esp. the complex relationship between the mentor and protege...

 
At 10:08 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

bhuvan, i've realized that as i've been reading up on him but i was kinda glad i didn't know him before i saw this one. the surprise about the eventual hero was one of the best parts of the film for me :) 'king of comedy' and 'from beijing with love'(a bond spoof) seemed interesting among his older movies. will check those out too once i've seen 'shaolin soccer'.

gopi, yep. another of the pleasant surprises :)

raju, thanx :)

mitr, i kinda wished i'd seen this on the big screen too. the stunts would've looked even better.

somewhat surprised u guys have seen this already. and here i was, thinking i was introducing an little-known gem :)

 
At 12:42 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

ram, this movie, i think, has the chance to be anybody's cup of bournvita! give it a shot. if u don't like it, nothing's lost. but there's a good chance u'll be grinning throughout the movie and end up having the time of your life :)

 
At 1:07 PM, Anonymous ram said...

"if u don't like it, nothing's lost."
--> pattukutty asin-a paakara time koranjudumey-nu paakaren...but annaathe solreenge, will give it a shot...will it be available on bbuster? when was this released?

 
At 3:22 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

should be available @ bb. came out maybe a couple of weeks ago :)

 
At 9:56 PM, Anonymous Prakash said...

Yup, available at BB. Checked it out today, and just got done a few mins back.

The first hour or so was good, then went downhill. The romance was very Indian movie-ish--sweet and innocent. Overall, not bad. But I don't think this movie has anything on 'Crouching T, H D', which is one of my all-time favs.

While we are in this area of the world, have you seen 'Eat, Drink, Man, Woman'? Again, a movie that can't be classified. But pure magic. Check it out if you haven't already.

 
At 12:13 PM, Blogger vee-jay said...

Found the trailors of the movie vvv entertaining. Missed this movie when it released and never got a chance to watch again!!!
Will check with the DVD rental guy next time I feel like watching an English movie!!!

 
At 10:45 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

prakash, really thot it went downhill after 1st hr? i felt there were some exhilarating moments towards the end. the stunt between the beast and the landlord/wife, the scene where we see the hand imprints in the traffic stop, the hand imprint on the ground, etc.

vee-jay, i've a feeling u'll like it :)

 
At 7:39 AM, Anonymous Prakash said...

Yeah, after the first hour, I got tired. And the conventional ending didn't help (i.e. Hannibal Lecter-like villain, sad sack guy turns out to be the 'one' etc).

The first half, on the other hand, kept turning up surprises. The title song/dance sequence, the sequence where he picks out a person from the crowd to fight against, the sequence with the knives ... those all had me ROTFL.

 
At 11:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a great story. Waiting for more. film editing schools

 

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