Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Action Comedy, Martial Arts, Period Film  |   Release Date - Apr 8, 2005 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - China, Hong Kong, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Jason Gibner

In the opening moments of Stephen Chow's latest hyperactive comedy, Kung Fu Hustle, one can see the many ways that it is unlike most other movies. Within the first 15 minutes, the audience sees ravishing costumes, classic Hollywood backlot-style sets, and an army of dancing, axe-carrying Chinese gangsters. Fans of Chow's largest crossover success, Shaolin Soccer, will not be disappointed by Kung Fu Hustle, as it shares not only many of that film's leading actors, but also the same spirit of innocence and fun combined with the rocket-fueled raw power that made audiences worldwide stand up and pay attention to Stephen Chow. Kung Fu Hustle takes artistic leaps beyond Shaolin Soccer, however, showing just how much Chow (the director, producer, and co-writer of both films) has grown as a filmmaker. While he uses many of the same cartoon-style, special-effects-covered flights of fantasy in Kung Fu Hustle that he used before, Chow delivers many superbly framed shots and perfects his gloriously unique and universally hilarious storytelling style even further. On top of all this, Chow, with the help of legendary fight choreographers Yuen Woo Ping and Sammo Hung, gives the audience some absolutely jaw-dropping, rousing, and innovative kung fu sequences that will surely impress. The warm and fuzzy vibe that Kung Fu Hustle gives off could potentially seem just plain corny to some viewers, especially during the film's slightly unnecessary love story subplot, but the end product is so enjoyable it's easy to forgive any missteps. It is clear that Stephen Chow loves what he's doing and adores the movie he has created. Kung Fu Hustle is a film constantly bursting at the seams with a joyous energy. This contagious and gratifying feeling should spread to anyone who watches the movie and makes it easy to see why the film broke so many box-office records across Asia upon its theatrical release.