In Crouching Tiger Hidden Jelly Donut, the US market was re-introduced to the Kung Fu movie. Choreography, trapeze work, and a healthy dose of CGI enhancements married the fluid movements of martial arts to a love story. We've seen a few more in this genre like House of the Flying Daggers. Could this same bundle of martial arts flair work in a different genre? Stephen Chow has made a run at integrating the modern Kung Fu movie with the modern comedy. He brought us Shaolin Soccer. He also directs Gong Fu (or Kung Fu Hustle).
The movie is set during the 1940s. The Axe Gang (so named because of their weapon of choice) is taking over all but the poorest neighborhoods. The Pig Sty neighborhood is a run down town. Only loose associates of the Axe Gang even bother with it. It is run by a powerful women comically shown with a cigarette in her mouth at all times. Through a series of misunderstandings, it becomes clear that the Pig Sty must defend itself against the Axe Gang. Three Kung Fu masters emerge from common jobs like Tailor and stock boy. The three masters hold off the Axe Gang, but the Axe Gang calls in reinforcements with two blind assassins of their own. The killers play musical instruments and the sound waves from their stringed instrument become slicing weapons. The three defenders of the Pig Sty are killed. But, it turns out the powerful women and her husband are really Kung Fu Masters in exile. They kill the assassins and the Axe Gang is forced to break the Beast out of prison. The Beast is nearly invincible. He's fast enough to catch speeding bullets in his fingers and strong enough to kill or destroy almost anything. The duo and the Beast battle, but the Beast gains the upper hand. The duo's prodigal son appears and is such a great Kung Fu master that he can invoke the Palm of Buddha and force the Beast into submission.
This is a stylistic movie. In addition to the satirical violence, all of our Kung Fu masters are unlikely candidates. They are old, frumpy, overtly homosexual and chosen specifically to add to the comedic tones of the movie. Unfortunately, the movie is a little silly and despite our heros being common folk themselves, I didn't feel very interested in their outcome.
Full profile for Gong fu
Offsite info: Internet Movie Database
Review: Perfect fighting fluff 5/10 andrew
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