Comedy meets kung fu action in new movie

Daniel Davis

“Kung Fu Hustle”



Rated R (violence)

Time: 1 hr. 40 min.

Stephen Chow (the director, not to be confused with the starring role actor) delivers one of the better films of the year with “Kung Fu Hustle.” This foreign flick brings the original Japanese hero plot to America: the epic tale of a young boy aspiring to become a warrior. This new storyline is a refreshing sight to see in America, where movies have been lacking substance and theme and have been unable to catch the interest of the public because of their overplayed storylines. One must admit, remaking movies (i.e. Batman for the nth time) are only going to get so much better. Directors are not changing plots; they are modifying graphics and increasing action scenes to please the eye of the audience, that is all. The only downside to the movie is the subtitles, which can upset some people so much that they will not want to see this movie, but do not let this one minor inconvenience prevent you from venturing out to the theaters to see “Kung Fu Hustle.”

The basic concept in “Kung Fu Hustle” is that an untrained, kung fu-less warrior wants to become part of a gang so he may involve himself with money and women. Unfortunately, this dream looks bleak considering his skills and inability to terrorize people in general. While he searches for himself with his overweight companion, the ultimate gang, the Axe Gang, is in control of all the wealthy and suburban areas, ruling unmercifully. However, in a small area outside of the “city,” there is a poor district called “Pig Sty,” where people owe rent and live their lives without the tyrant rule of the mob. Unfortunately, one day our main character, with chubby comrade, comes to town posing as the Axe Gang, and initiates a war between the sides that will last the entire movie. Luckily, the landlady has warriors within her poor town to protect the people and fight off the mob. Yet, this upsets the leader of the Axe Gang, who is now forced to find the top accessible killers in the land to battle back. Now, back and forth we go one-upping each other, Axe Gang versus Landlady, with the new, stronger warriors they manage to find to do battle until the end, where our hero comes around.

“Kung Fu Hustle” supplies the U.S. film industry with a comedic “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (or “Kill Bill” minus the excessive gore) type fighting whose magnificent style makes it pleasurable to view. The Japanese slapstick humor revitalizes and purifies the once-clean (PG) screen that we enjoyed as kids growing up. The simple and silly injuries and conflicts our main character finds allow the audience more than its fair share of chuckling. And perhaps the most amusing of all is the constant improvement (strong warrior meeting a stronger warrior meeting an even stronger warrior, etc.) in warriors that continues throughout the movie until the conclusion where our main character peaks and “discovers who he is.” This movie gets my utmost recommendation, so if you want to get away from the banality of the theaters nowadays, check out one of Stephen Chow’s best.