W hen Crouching Tiger made martial arts mainstream-fashionable here, dissenters claimed the whole genre had been castrated and merchant-ivorised with a western-style joke-free magic-realism and people floating through the air, their silk-clad legs bicycling prettily as they hovered over picturesque Chinese scenery, cheongsams and rattling wooden carts. Long-time fans groaned at the dinner-party-class newcomers rhapsodising about the wonderfully Chinese slowness of the dialogue, heedless of the fact that Cantonese-speaking stars were having to do their lines in Mandarin. Well, perhaps we were indeed being served up pre-packaged exoticism - though that's always the way, and it didn't stop the movies from being great - and now Stephen Chow's outrageously enjoyable action comedy Kung Fu Hustle helps to redress the balance. It's the celluloid equivalent of a gallon of espresso. Not for nothing is Hong Kong megastar Chow rivalling Jackie Chan in popularity, although he relies more on digital effects than the Master himself. This movie delivers a savage karate-chop to the funny bone.
Review: Kung Fu Hustle
Kung Fu Hustle | Film | The Guardian
His love of those old movies is evident in every frame this picture. Fans of "traditional" kung fu cinema will think they have died and gone to heaven. But what about the average viewer, whose lone experience with martial arts may have been a flirtation with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or the Westernized The Matrix? One of the great strengths of Kung Fu Hustle is that you don't have to be a fan to enjoy it.
The gang members also dance awfully well, in meticulously choreographed unison, for no obvious reason. This is something movies can do remarkably well: revel in the kind of intentional confusion that only gradually resolves itself. For a TV show, such an approach would be fatal—click, click, and the remote has whisked away millions of impatient viewers. At the center of Kung Fu Hustle is its endlessly creative leading man, director, and co-writer, Stephen Chow—a megastar in China but best known in America only for a delightfully raucous movie you probably thought beneath you, Shaolin Soccer Chow spends a lot of time pushing his camera through every dusty corner of Pig Sty Alley, which is overseen with grumpy frumpiness by Landlady Yuen Qiu , who stomps around in curlers and a baggy housedress, berating her goofball husband, Landlord Yuen Wah , as well as all the cowed inhabitants of the Alley.