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Kung Fu Hustle
2004 - PG-13 (Violence) - 95 Mins.
Director: Stephen Chow
Producer: Stephen Chow, Po Chu Chui, Jeffrey Lau
Written By: Stephen Chow, Tsang Kan Cheong, Chan Man Keung
Starring: Stephen Chow, Yuen Wah, Yuen Qui, Leung Siu Lung, Shengyi Huang
Review by: James O'Ehley
Official Site:

Sock! Whack! Take that!
KUNG FU HUSTLE can at best be described as “THE MATRIX meets LOONEY TUNES”.

That is, in as far as this movie can be described, KUNG FU HUSTLE is really in a class of its own, defying any easy categorisation or synopsis. The chances are however that it is totally unlike anything you have ever seen before . . .

It is Shanghai in the 1930s. A huckster (played by director Stephen Chow) inadvertently starts a war between the inhabitants of a poor neighborhood aptly named Pigsty Alley and a gang terrorizing the city when he poses as a gang member and unsuccessfully tries to intimidate the alley’s residents into bribing him.

The gang is the so-called “Axe” gang and, while they practically own the rest of the city, they have never bothered with the poor people living in Pigsty alley for obvious reasons (they have no money). Showing the denizens of Pigsty alley who’s boss should be a cinch for the maniacal and ruthless “Axe” gang members – don’t let the fact that they are into line dancing mislead you. Except there seem to be a bunch of super-powered kung fu types living incognito amongst the alley people. They proceed to kick the cr*p out of the multitude of “Axe” gang members in what proves to be one of the first of many over-the-top martial arts sequences which at the same time pays homage to and spoofs the likes of CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. Think THE MATRIX OVERLOADED, except it’s funny . . .

But where CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON and THE MATRIX movies took themselves very seriously, KUNG FU HUSTLE does nothing of the sort with its tongue-in-cheek humor and slapstick sensibilities. Some sequences will make you laugh out loud (one scene literally had tears of laughter literally rolling down this reviewer’s cheeks) and the chances are that you’ll be wearing a goofy grin throughout the film’s entire running time.

Mixing inventive special effects and great stunt work in an entirely original and fresh way, the film’s action sequences are simply great. Highly original with a human heart beating at its centre, KUNG FU HUSTLE is however more than a simple action movie.

I can’t recommend KUNG FU HUSTLE highly enough: it is everything KILL BILL wanted to be, but actually wasn’t.

Even if you hate Martial Arts films, you’ll love this one because of its endearing sense of humor and fun. Forget Jackie Chan and Jet Li – Asian superstar Stephen Chow is the guy to watch in future. (Chow also made a film called SHAOLIN SOCCER which unfortunately disappeared without a trace upon its release in the States because its distributors simply didn’t know what to do with it.)

Go see KUNG FU HUSTLE – you can thank me later for recommending it! It is simply the Best Movie Of The Year so far . . .

Movie Guru Rating
An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant.
  4.5 out of 5 stars

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