Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting
Stephen Chow is not a name that may be instantly recognizable as many of his movies fail to get the big screen releases that they honestly deserve. Which is certainly the case with "Kung Fu Hustle" a magnificent movie unlike anything which I have witnessed before but due to not getting enough big screen publicity only came to my attention via DVD.
It's 1930s Hong Kong. When wannabe crook Sing (Stephen Chow) and his rotund pal find themselves down on their luck, they decide to chance their hand in one of the city's many run down areas. In Pig Sty Alley they discover a barber, where they attempt to blag free hair cuts by pretending to be part of the notorious Black Axe gang. It's a risk the both could soon live to regret. Unintentionally starting a turf war between the Black Axe gang members and the residents of Pig Sty Alley, the duo can only sit back and watch as, one after another of the residents reveal their many and varied secrets.
It's hard to do justice to "Kung Fu Hustle" when trying to describe the movie as the storyline does not sound that new or impressive. But it is visually impressive combining elements of martial arts, comedy, and fantasy with a touch of looney tunes, yes looney tunes. It sounds like a whacky mixture and "Kung Fu Hustle" is quite a whacky movie but it works brilliantly blending these elements to make one of the most visually entertaining movies I have watched in a long time.
The actual storyline to "Kung Fu Hustle" is a rudimentary tale of good versus evil that doesn't attempt to over complicate matters with too many twists or subplots. In fact it is one movie where I can honestly say that the storyline is purely a vehicle for some outrageously good action and it doesn't matter one little bit that brain power is not a necessity. Not that the storyline is bad it's just the case that "Kung Fu Hustle" is a movie best watched without engaging your brain and allowing for the impressive visuals to woo you into submission.
I would say that to really enjoy "Kung Fu Hustle" you should try to avoid watching the trailers or read reviews which divulge too much. But to embellish a little more on the story without spoiling the secrets, Pig Sty Alley hosts three secret masters in the martial arts each of which have a spectacular talent.
The most satisfying thing about "Kung Fu Hustle" is that visually it is stunning, not just with the well choreographed action but also in the surroundings which help set up the atmosphere. But I would be lying if I said that the fight scenes were not the most eye catching part of the movie. Incorporating wire work, actually genuine martial arts and CGI the actions scenes truly live up to the words fast & furious. But it is also the intricacy of the action which grabs you and keeps your attention whilst the imagination of Stephen Chow runs wild with bigger and better scenes.
In amongst all the action the characters which live in Pig Sty Alley as well as those who belong to the Black Axe gang are brilliant, at times hilarious and often border on being caricatures. Chow who also acted in as well as wrote and directed "Kung Fu Hustle" sets the ball rolling with his slightly cartoon character Sing and is matched by Xiaogang Fang who is brilliant as the sinister leader of the Black Axe gang. But the real star of "Kung Fu Hustle" is Qui Yien as the fag smoking landlady who absolutely fills the screen in every scene. Her character is totally over the top but utterly hilarious as well and in keeping with the feel of the movie.
Although it is tempting to divulge more information on the characters by doing so it would spoil many a surprise for anyone who hasn't seen "Kung Fu Hustle" yet.
What this all boils down to is that "Kung Fu Hustle" is hugely entertaining in a way you may not have been expecting. Don't expect for any complex narratives or over stylized martial arts it's not that sort of movie. Watch "Kung Fu Hustle" expecting the unexpected, the simple yet the entertaining and be prepared to disengage your brain and just enjoy the riotous fun and stunning visuals which make it such a surprisingly enjoyable movie.